According to the president, it is “quite strange” that an organization founded as a response to war is once again in the middle of a war.
President Sauli Niinisto hopes that the Council of Europe summit that started in Iceland will provide concrete support to Ukraine in the fight for peace.
Representatives from 46 countries gathered in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Tuesday for a two-day summit, only the fourth in the history of the Council of Europe, founded in 1949. Russia was expelled from the organization last year shortly after launching a war of aggression in Ukraine.
– I am sure that, fairly unanimously, we will say that peace is the most important thing for all peoples, and Ukraine will receive all possible support while fighting for peace, Niinisto said upon arrival at the summit.
Read more: Niinisto to attend Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik
Niinisto reminds that the Council of Europe is an organization focused on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, so direct promises of arms are not expected from Reykjavík.
– But all the spiritual assistance offered here is surely also a good basis for making national decisions regarding arms assistance.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will be present in Reykjavik. The most concrete outcome of the summit is expected to be the establishment of an international damage register of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. Finland will be one of the founding members of the registry. The Register collects and records war damage claims and related evidence.
– Of course, this also has its own importance, it is quite an achievement that we have been able to create such a register together, estimates Niinisto.
Regarding the role of the Council of Europe, Niinisto said that the organization was founded after World War II specifically in response to the war, to emphasize human rights and to preserve the legal order and democracy.
– Of course, now, decades later, it is quite strange that we are here in the same council in the middle of a war of sorts. But of course it is more important to stick to those principles, and of course that will be reaffirmed many times here, Niinisto said.
After all, the Council of Europe exclusively protects the rules-based system in Europe and beyond.
Niinisto himself said that he wanted the summit to pay special attention to global developments and to the fact that the events of the past should not be confused with the present.
– Now it seems that in some countries the bitter experiences of history have been dug up in a way, whether to support Ukraine or not, or to condemn Russia. They are completely different things, and that’s what I’m going to emphasize.
The president has also been closely monitoring the situation in the fighting in Ukraine, where a Ukrainian counteroffensive has been planned.
– However, you have to keep in mind that there’s war going on all the time, and obviously a little hustle and bustle. Recently, Ukraine has also been successful in defending its capital, repelling a large number of missiles.