On 16–17 May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the 129th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) in Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, the country holding the Presidency of the CoE.
The Council of Europe was established 70 years ago to promote unity between nations. Since then, the Council of Europe has successfully developed cooperation in Europe by protecting and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The organisation has responded to considerable changes in Europe’s political and social scene and emerging challenges, for instance, cyber-crime, crime in health care, international terrorism, and trafficking in human beings. The Council of Europe has played a major role in promoting understanding of European identity based on shared values,” said Edgars Rinkēvičs in his statement.
At the same time, the Minister drew attention to concerns raised regarding further unity of the Council of Europe, since the illegal annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Donbass, the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are an example of the fact that certain CoE member states, for instance the Russian Federation, ignore and disregard the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe.
“It is unacceptable that, to this day, there are places in certain member states of the Council of Europe, where human rights and the principles of democracy and the rule of law are flouted. Latvia expresses regret that the situation in Crimea remains unchanged, and the rights of people, including Crimean Tatars and those who oppose the illegal annexation, are violated. I would like to reiterate Latvia’s strong support for the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia,” the Latvian Foreign Minister underlined.
Edgars Rinkēvičs voiced a position that the Council of Europe member states and the organisation itself should comply with the principles of democracy, the rule of law and transparency, as the Council of Europe is based on the core values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. These values must not be sacrificed even when, for instance, separate member states threaten to withdraw from the organisation and to suspend payments.
The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe was established in 1949, and it is the oldest political organisation in Europe, comprising 47 European countries. The goal of the Council of Europe is to build a common area of democracy and justice by ensuring that its fundamental values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law – are observed and protected. Latvia joined the Council of Europe on 10 February 1995.
The meeting brought together foreign ministers and representatives from the 47 CoE member states as well as five observers (Canada, the Holy See, Japan, Mexico, and the USA), the European Union, and the OSCE.
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