Accountability for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the promotion and protection of the core values of the Council of Europe are the main topics of the Summit of the Council of Europe, which started today in Reykjavik. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, emphasised the support of the Council of Europe and its member States for Ukraine in her address at the opening event of the Summit.
Leaders and other representatives of all member States of the Council of Europe arrived one by one at Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre this afternoon, where Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir, and Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, greeted them. The guests then proceeded to an opening event in Eldborg Hall in Harpa, where the Prime Minister gave her address reaffirming, inter alia, the importance of the Council of Europe continuing to be the leading institution for the protection and promotion of human rights and in assuring that human rights apply to everyone.
“In recent years, we have witnessed increasing political attempts to undermine basic values, subvert democratic practices, and weaken the rule of law. Democracy has come under strain due to various forms of authoritarian encroachments. We are facing a widespread and violent push-back against women’s rights and freedoms, gender equality and LGBTI rights. We should not forget that the democratic concept that underpins the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter is inclusive; it requires that the rights and interests of all are considered, including those most vulnerable to violations of their basic rights,” Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, stated in her address.
Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, delivered a live video address during the opening event of the Summit. Other leaders who addressed the opening were Emmanuel Macron, President of France, Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy, Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The event was concluded with a piano recital by the pianist Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson. He played Ave Maria by the Icelandic composer Sigvaldi Kaldalóns.
Before the event began, the President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, welcomed the guests at a reception hosted by Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir and Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland and the President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
“This important Summit marks the end of Iceland's presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers. We have endeavoured to fulfil that role with the dedication it deserves. During Iceland's presidency, the Council has been unanimous on actions for the benefit of Ukraine. The Register of Damage that we have agreed to establish is a concrete contribution from the member States lead by Iceland. What is most important in my opinion is that by undertaking such an initiative, we are really contributing towards a better world," said Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland.
The leaders’ roundtable discussions are currently underway. The discussions take place at five round tables, and will essentially cover the latest human rights challenges, how to protect democracy in times of uncertainty and the member States’ continuing support to Ukraine, including how to ensure that accountability for Ukraine is enforced. Later this evening, the leaders will gather for a working dinner, where support for Ukraine, as well as the peace proposals of President Zelensky, will be on agenda.
Yesterday the party leaders and representatives of all the political parties represented in the Parliament of Iceland, Althingi, submitted a parliamentary resolution stating that Iceland will purchase a fully equipped mobile field hospital and give to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
The Reykjavík Summit continues tomorrow, with the Prime Minister of Iceland chairing the general debate. The leaders will also sign a declaration in support of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on the Register of Damage which has been created to record the damage caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. At the end of the Summit, Iceland will formally hand over the Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to Latvia.