The Council of Europe will reaffirm its attachment to democratic values ​​in Iceland

by Andreas Reinke and Michelle Rose

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) – European leaders will gather in Iceland from Tuesday for a two-day Europe summit, reaffirming their message of support for Ukraine despite Russia’s offensive and recalling their attachment to democratic values .

During this summit, the fourth since the creation of the Council of Europe after World War II, the 46 member states will discuss emerging threats as the war in Ukraine continues.

“The Council of Europe is often underestimated in its importance,” Frank Schwabe, a German lawmaker involved in planning the summit, told Reuters of the top human rights body, which is entirely separate from the European Union.

The democratic values ​​of the Council of Europe are upheld by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, where citizens can sue governments for human rights violations.

French President Emmanuel Macron will give a speech there on Tuesday, while his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, received at the Elysee Palace on Sunday, will address heads of state and government by video link.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are also expected to arrive in Reykjavik.

According to the Icelandic organizers, the summit will be an opportunity to support Ukraine in encouraging “concrete measures” as well as initiatives aimed at tackling emerging threats to democracy, including climate change and artificial intelligence.

In addition, the Council of Europe, through its Development Bank (CEB), is studying ways to quickly come to the aid of Ukrainians, the French president indicated.

Frank Schwabe commented, “The summit will also be about explaining what happens if you don’t follow the rules.” “The threat of boycott is already a sharp sword. Even Russia did not want to leave the Council of Europe, Turkey does not want to leave either.”

The Council of Europe suspended Russia from its ranks a day after its February 24, 2022 launch of the offensive in Ukraine, which Kiev and the West denounced as an invasion. Moscow, which presents its invasion as a “special military operation”, quit the council the following month, anticipating a possible outright exclusion.

Turkey, for its part, has been threatened with exclusion for refusing to comply with an ECHR ruling in 2019 seeking the release of Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala.

Experts believe the Committee of Europe’s Council of Ministers has launched an infringement procedure against Ankara, which has so far insisted on talks but could be suspended or expelled from the council.

(Reporting by Andreas Reinke and Michel Rose in London with contributions by Andrew MacAskill; French version Cate Enstringer, Editing by Jean Terzien)

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