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‘Peace is the most important contribution we can make to human rights’, says Sauli Niinistö

“Human rights, democracy and the rule of law – the values the Council of Europe stands for – can only thrive in a state of peace. Maintaining the absence of war must be our highest priority. At the end of the day, peace is the most important contribution we can make to human rights. Everything else comes after that,” said the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, addressing the Assembly today.

In this context, the President stressed that the Council of Europe was “as relevant as ever”. “Its values have made us what we are: stable and prosperous societies. We need to make sure that future generations are also able to benefit from these accomplishments,” he said, hoping that the Organisation would remain “the backbone for all its members”. At the same time, he added, “if we want to succeed in safeguarding those invaluable fundamentals of the Council of Europe, we cannot close our eyes to the changes in the world we live in”.

Evoking “worrisome political difficulties” encountered by the Organisation and the risk of losing one member, M. Niinistö said that Russia’s departure from the Council of Europe would be a loss for all sides and a “blow for the entire rules-based international order”.

“I trust that the Council of Europe will solve this current crisis, as it has solved all previous ones. Finland will actively support efforts to find a way forward,” he concluded, calling for close co-operation between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly in order to work for “a common and sustainable solution”.