Archive and Chronology of Finnish Foreign Policy

Address by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the 4th Council of Europe Summit on 17 May 2023 in Reykjavik

Excellencies, Colleagues,

For more than a year, Russia has been waging a war of aggression on Ukraine. It is first and foremost an attack against Ukraine and its people. But it is also an attack against the fundamental values on which the Council of Europe is built: peace, cooperation, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We must defend these commitments.

Our support to Ukraine remains as strong and resolute as ever. 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.

While our primary attention is rightly on Ukraine, we stress the need for support also to Georgia, Moldova and the Western Balkans. Finland welcomes further steps to advance Kosovo’s membership in the Council of Europe.

As the multilateral rules-based system is challenged, the Council of Europe deserves our strongest support. The importance of the European Court of Human Rights and the full execution of its judgments cannot be overemphasized. We must uphold the most comprehensive human rights protection system in the world. It is our defense against democratic backsliding.

This Summit addresses the important link between the environment and human rights. We must also apply new technologies and artificial intelligence in ways that respect the rule of law and human rights. And we must prevent violence against women and cybercrime, protect minorities, fight terrorism. The list is long. For this, and much more, the Council of Europe needs to stay efficient.

Finland is grateful to the Icelandic Presidency for convening this Summit that sends a strong message. We will defend human rights, democracy and the rule of law wherever they are under threat. I also wish to express our support to Latvia for your upcoming Presidency in carrying on this important work. Thank you.