President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö participated in the Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik on 16–17 May 2023. The aim of the meeting was to reaffirm the Council of Europe’s mission in the light of new threats to human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and to further support Ukraine.
The Summit began on Tuesday 16 May with an opening session followed by a discussion and working dinner on support for Ukraine. President Niinistö delivered Finland’s national address during the General Debate of the Summit on Wednesday 17 May.
In his speech, President Niinistö said that the support for Ukraine remains as strong and resolute as ever. During the Summit, an agreement negotiated within the Council of Europe entered into force, establishing an international Register of Damage caused by the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. Finland will be one of the founding members of the register to be placed in The Hague.
“With the establishment of a Register of Damages, the Council of Europe has taken an important step towards ensuring Russia’s accountability. Finland supports further accountability efforts, by Ukraine nationally and by international institutions”, President Niinistö said.
The President also recalled the importance of the European Court of Human Rights and the full execution of its judgments: We must uphold the most comprehensive human rights protection system in the world. It’s our defence against democratic backsliding.
Addressing the Finnish media attending the Summit, the President mentioned that the Council of Europe was founded after the Second World War to defend human rights, democracy and the rule of law. “Now, decades later, it is of course quite strange that we here in the same Council are sort of in the middle of a war. But of course, it is all the more important to stick to those principles.”
At the Summit, President Niinistö also emphasised the importance of global development and of not confusing the past with current events. “It seems to me that in some countries bitter historical experiences are being dredged up, as if linked to the question of whether or not to support Ukraine, or whether or not to condemn Russia. They are completely separate issues.”
The President also had a number of bilateral meetings on the agenda.
The Reykjavik Summit was the fourth Council of Europe Summit since the Council was established in 1949.
- Address by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the 4th Council of Europe Summit on 17 May 2023 in Reykjavik