On 20 June 2023, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, in his capacity of the Chair of the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee of Ministers, addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) over the priorities of the Latvian CoE Presidency and current political issues addressed by the CoE Committee of Ministers.
In a questions and answers session with PACE parliamentarians, the Minister highlighted the priorities of the Latvian Presidency: strengthening democracy and the rule of law; promoting freedom of expression, journalists’ safety and the digital agenda of the Council of Europe; and advancing reforms of the Council of Europe, including through implementing the decisions of the Reykjavik Summit.
The Minister paid particular attention to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and to Russia’s international accountability: “Ukraine must receive all the support it needs. The Member States of the Council of Europe have reaffirmed their unwavering support to the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We call on the Russian Federation to comply with its international obligations and withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Russia must assume full legal and financial responsibility for its aggression and violations of international law.”
During his visit, the Minister met with the President of PACE, Martinus Josephus Maria (Tiny) Kox, the CoE Secretary-General, Maria Pejčinović Burić, and the President of the CoE Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Leen Verbeek. In the discussions, the Foreign Minister reaffirmed the commitment of the Latvian Presidency to implementing the decisions taken at the Reykjavik Summit of the Council of Europe, in particular, the need to set up a Register of Damage concerning damage and loss caused by Russia in Ukraine.
In his capacity of the Chair of the CoE Committee of Ministers, the Foreign Minister met with the Speaker of the Parliament of Kosovo, Glauk Konjufca.
Edgars Rinkēvičs also took part in the unveiling of a photography exhibition on Latvian folk costumes. The event featured the performance of a Latvian diaspora choir, “Staro”.
Latvia took over the six-month presidency of the CoE Committee of Ministers on 17 May 2023. This is Latvia’s second presidency since joining the organisation in 1995. The Latvian Foreign Minister is chairing the Committee of Ministers of the CoE.
Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe is the oldest political organisation in Europe bringing together 46 European countries. The aim of the organisation is to create a common democratic and legal space founded on respect for and protection of its core values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
PACE is one of the key CoE bodies comprised of the delegations of members of national parliaments from 46 CoE member states.
Photo: European Parliament