Ávarp á leiðtogafundi Evrópuráðsins í Reykjavík
17. May 2023
Thank you chair,
Madam Secretary General, Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen.
Europe is united around Ukraine.
This has been true from the moment Russia launched its brutal full scale invasion last year.
Today - we reaffirm that this remains true.
It can be argued that the war in Ukraine is an horrific manifestation of a widespread and long-lasting conflict about the kind of world we want to live in.
Malignant forces all over the world try to impose their will by offering cheap solutions and emotional appeals.
We know that a society where people are free to think and free to speak is not easy to manage - but defending free societies is worth the effort a million times over.
Today - we reaffirm our commitment to a society of individual freedoms.
We recommit to our belief that a liberal democracy based on respect for the rights of the individual is the form of society that has created the greatest human welfare and economic prosperity in human history.
The challenges we face all have a common solution - the solution lies in our humanity - and in human creativity.
By committing to the Reykjavík principles for democracy we are showing that we are united around our values.
Since we assumed the presidency, we have taken our role seriously. We are proud to have been able to contribute to this organization and to the cause of democracy, human rights and the rule of law by offering Reykjavík as a venue for this fourth summit of the leaders of the Council of Europe.
When this idea was first floated in Torino - one year ago - almost to the day- I said:
„If we are entrusted with the responsibility of hosting a summit, we will perform it with humility for the task and pride in our opportunity to be of service.
I believe that the timing is right, and that Reykjavik can serve as a meaningful venue to reaffirm our commitment to the values that we must cherish and defend.“
The high-level participation of Member States truly demonstrates our common commitment to this organisation and its role in safeguarding our common values.
More than forty countries have already joined the Register of Damage that will be set up as a part of the process of ensuring accountability for Ukraine. Most believed the process for establishing such an agreement would take take years. It has taken less than six months.
This shows what can be done when political will and determination are united for an important cause.
This shows what we can do together.
So, I would like to thank you all for attending and I would like to use this opportunity to extend my thanks to all of those who have contributed to this summit in so many ways. I also wish to thank my permanent representative and team in Strasbourg, and the Secretariat for our co-operation throughout the presidency. My heart is full of gratitude to so many people who have made this summit a reality.
I would like to offer the Latvian Presidency the assurance of our support in the important work ahead in implementing the decisions made here today.
Ladies and gentlemen,
These are times of turbulence and uncertainty. As my prime minister said in her statement this morning:
We have been here before and we know this story has many possible endings.
These are serious times, and serious times demand serious discussions.
We — the people in this room — can affect the outcome, we can make a difference to how the story ends.
It will require courage. It will require wisdom - and it will require humility. It will require leadership.
We need to advocate for our values and maintain support for them within our societies.
Europe must remain united around Ukraine - and we must remain united around our values. Thank you.