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Standing Committee meeting in Reykjavik: current affairs debate on the Escalation in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine

On 25 November 2022, on the request of the five political groups of PACE, the Standing Committee meeting in Reykjavik held a current affairs debate on the escalation in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee Damien Cottier (Switzerland, ALDE) focused his introductory remarks on the need to ensure accountability for the crimes committed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.

“The officials of one country who attack another must be tried by an ad hoc international tribunal, as our Assembly has already proposed. We must continue to promote its creation, including through the 4th Council of Europe Summit to be held here in May,” declared Damien Cottier.

"Those who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, or who attempt genocide, and those who ordered or tolerated these crimes as superiors, must be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court or by Ukrainian justice with the help of the Joint Investigations Team. Council of Europe states and our Organisation must provide the necessary support here, in particular by sending experts and by supporting investigations into sexual crimes," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the group, ALDE Group President Iulian Bulai declared ALDE’s full support to the idea of accountability “I am very happy that Damien Cottier has mentioned the importance of proposition that the summit should have the heritage of the tribunal judging the crimes of aggression”.

He also called for solidarity and action in three areas of concern:

“Regarding Kherson, I call upon this Assembly to call on the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner to conduct a fact-finding mission in Ukraine in the coming weeks [and to present a full report]. I think it lies within the competence of this Assembly to ask another body of the CoE to be proactive in this direction.”

“Ukrainian people suffer. We do not, as organisation, offer humanitarian aid, but the International Red Cross does. According to the sources among our Ukrainian friends more presence would be welcome and needed there. If we could have a formal demand on more presence on that side, I think it would be relevant”, continued Iulain Bulai.

“At the same time, I just learned a couple of minutes ago that a top politician from a Council of Europe’s member state, a Foreign Affairs Minister, has just been to Russia as a top guest at an event in Sochi called AtomExpo. I just want to remind you that both Ukraine and Moldova are suffering because Russia is destroying the electricity capacities and sabotaging the gas and energy delivery to these countries. And this is an insult to our core values that a member state is not showing full solidarity both with the victims and with the Council of Europe”. This damage should be repaired, warned the speaker.

“And my last point: two days ago, the Romanian parliament officially recognised Holodomor as genocide of the Ukrainian people. I think it would be right if PACE would be calling upon member states to have more official recognitions of the past sufferings in order to understand that what is going on now is the continuation of what started almost 90 years ago”.

More about the Standing Committee meeting in Reykjavik

More about the current affairs debate

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