EP ģenerālsekretāre

On 16 March 2023, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičsmet with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE), Marija Pejčinović Burić, who had arrived on a working visit to Latvia ahead of Latvia’s six-month chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe starting 17 May 2023.

The officials discussed the priorities and tasks of the chairmanship of Latvia, the challenges faced by the organisation, the CoE’s support for Ukraine in relation to Russian aggression, and other international developments.

“The Council of Europe is a key organisation for the protection and strengthening of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. We see the Latvian chairmanship as an inclusive mission, with many Latvian institutions being involved in its implementation, and 17 events scheduled to take place in Riga and Strasbourg within the framework of the chairmanship. Therefore, the thematic priorities of the Latvian chairmanship will be to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in Europe, in particular, by facilitating the enforcement of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, to promote freedom of expression, safety of journalists and the Council’s digital agenda, as well as to actively participate in advancing reforms of the Council of Europe, including the implementation of decisions to be taken at the forthcoming summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in May this year,”  Edgars Rinkēvičs said.

Although the CoE was the first international organisation to decide, just a year ago on 16 March, to suspend Russia’s membership in response to Russian military aggression in Ukraine, there are Russian Federation citizens still working for CoE institutions. At the meeting, Edgars Rinkēvičs voiced an opinion that such a situation was unacceptable because, under the updated CoE Staff Regulations, the Secretary General of the organisation may terminate employment if the state of which the staff member is a national ceases to be a member of the organisation.

“A situation when citizens of the Russian Federation continue working for an organisation from which Russia has been suspended. Therefore, Latvia will follow up on this issue with the necessary regularity during its chairmanship, keeping it on the agenda of the Committee of Ministers,” the Latvian Foreign Minister underlined.

During the meeting, the Foreign Minister reaffirmed Latvia’s commitment to support Ukraine in every way possible and stand up for holding Russia accountable internationally for all its crimes perpetrated in Ukraine, including the crime of aggression.


Background information

Latvia will take over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers from Iceland this coming 17 May, at the end of the fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the CoE in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Latvian chairmanship will last until 15 November, to be then handed over to Liechtenstein.