Joint Statement in response to the Address by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe

As delivered by Helga Hauksdóttir, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iceland, at the Permanent Council Meeting, Vienna, 25 April 2024

Thank you, Madame Chair.

I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.

The Nordic and Baltic countries warmly welcome Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to the Permanent Council and thank you for your address.

Next month marks the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe and next year marks 50 years since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act.

These anniversaries remind us of the values and commitments both organizations were founded to protect, and the importance of safeguarding our common vision of a region where democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and a peace based on justice prevails.

In an evolving European and global security landscape, close cooperation between our two key European organisations is essential, from the highest political levels to the field operations, within the four priority areas and beyond. The Nordic and Baltic countries will continue to support both organisations’ vital and complementary work. Iceland and Latvia have also had the honour to cooperate closely with you and your Secretariat during our recent Council of Europe Presidencies and Lithuania will assume their Presidency this May.

Madame Chair, Madame Secretary General,

The Russian Federation’s unlawful, unjustified, and unprovoked full-scale war against Ukraine violates everything that the OSCE and the Council of Europe stand for.

The Nordic and Baltic countries continue to stand in solidarity with and remain fully committed to supporting Ukraine and its people. Accountability for all violations of international law must be ensured, including the crime of aggression and all international crimes committed in Ukraine.

The Council of Europe Register of Damage, established at the Reykjavík Summit in May last year and already in function, is a crucial first step towards compensation for damages, losses or injuries inflicted by the Russian aggression in Ukraine and supporting evidence for these claims. Accountability efforts also include tools such as the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, to document violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

Without accountability, there can be no justice or sustainable peace. We will be following with interest the work on behalf of the Council of Europe on a possible agreement between the Council of Europe and the Government of Ukraine on the establishment of a Special Tribunal.

Madame Chair, Madame Secretary General,

Following the Reykjavík Summit and Declaration, our Heads of State and Government reaffirmed commitment to our shared values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, for a peaceful and secure future for our region.

The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine is far from being the only challenge facing Europe and the world today. Democratic backsliding, the backlash against women’s rights, the climate crisis, the spread of disinformation, and the misuse of new technologies, are but a few examples.

The Nordic and Baltic countries will remain steadfast supporters of the work of both the Council of Europe and the OSCE. We are convinced that the only way to address and resolve these cross-border challenges is with multilateral solutions and cooperation, grounded in respect for international law.

The Nordic and Baltic countries thank you, Secretary General Burić, for your remarks, and wish you and your team continued success in your efforts.

We also take this opportunity to thank the Presidency of Liechtenstein for their ongoing valuable work, determination, and dedication.

I thank you, Madame Chair.