The Speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the 4th Council of Europe Summit
Madame / Mr. Chair,
Madame Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me first thank the Icelandic presidency for organizing this Summit in the very efficient and generous manner.
Today, we are at a milestone moment for the Council of Europe. We are here to provide new impetus to our Organization, express our unity and to demonstrate that the Council of Europe has become even more relevant in a world where international commitments of states are violated and basic principles of international law are at stake.
For all of us, the reaction to Russian aggression against the Ukraine is key topic for this summit.
Ukrainian friends are not in this alone. We are at their side. We stand in solidarity with them and we will assist them. Many of us visited Ukraine and witnessed the horrors of war in person and saw the war that we hoped to never see in Europe again.
The Council of Europe did not and could not prevent this war but it faced this historical challenge with honor by the swift expulsion of the Russian Federation.
It is crucial to hold Russia and its leadership accountable. There has to be justice for the victims of this senseless war. For this reason, Czechia supports the investigation led by the ICC (International Criminal Court) and also the proposal for a special tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators of the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
We cannot forget about the responsibility of the Russian State for the incredible damage inflicted by Ukraine and its people. The Register of Damage, that we are setting up these days, is a key element of the Council of Europe's response to Russia's aggression. In this respect, I am proud to say that the Czech diplomacy played an active role in the negotiations leading towards the establishment of the instrument. It is important that the Register becomes operational as soon as possible.
While we focus on the situation in Ukraine, we must not forget about Georgia, Moldova, as well as other partners facing Russian pressure and intimidation. They can count on our support, including on their road to EU membership.
I would also like to use this opportunity and reiterate our full support to Kosovo's intention to become a member of the Council of Europe as soon as possible.
Finally, let me address briefly two topics currently resonating in the relations between the Czech Republic and the Council of Europe. The first one is the status of the Roma population, particularly the full inclusion of Roma children into the education system. In my short period in office, I have already devoted significant time to this issue. I visited the most affected regions of our country and also invited Roma high school and university students to my office to personally share their experience as a good example.
The second issue is the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. The Czech Republic signed this important treaty in 2016. I have encouraged both the Government and the Parliament to speed up the process of its ratification.
Let me conclude by assuring you that the Czech Republic will continue to actively support the Council of Europe and its unique role.
Petr Pavel, the President of the Czech Republic, 4th Council of Europe Summit, Reykjavik, 17th of May 2023