On 4 November 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the online session of the Committee of Ministers organised by Greece which currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which has laid the foundation for the central and most visible institution of the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights.
Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined the importance of the Convention today and noted that unwarranted derogation from commitments set out in the document is unacceptable. Global calamities such as the COVID-19 pandemic are the time when the most vulnerable groups of people need enhanced protection of their fundamental rights, in particular, access to healthcare. The emergency situation, furthermore, should not be used as an excuse to stall implementation of the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Minister also called on those present at the meeting to increase their focus on developments in Belarus: "Although not a part of this Organisation, Belarus is a part of Europe and our close neighbour. He urged the Council of Europe’s institutions and members of the organisation to use all available instruments for cooperation so as to support the democratisation efforts of the Belarusian people."
Edgars Rinkēvičs said that Latvia was concerned about the continuing activities of several member states of the Council of Europe that weaken the authority and credibility of the European Court of Human Rights and consequently the organisation as a whole. "Latvia therefore firmly rejects a "pick and choose" approach towards fundamental principles of the Council of Europe – the rule of law, democracy and human rights," the Minister stressed.
The Strasbourg- based Council of Europe was founded in 1949 and is one of the oldest political organisations in Europe. The Council of Europe aims to create a common democratic and legal community in Europe by ensuring that its fundamental values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law – are respected and protected. Latvia became a member of the Council of Europe in 1995.
The Committee of Ministers convenes for its session annually in the country holding the Council of Europe’s chairmanship. The Latvian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is scheduled for 2023.
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