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Luigi Di Maio: ‘Investing in peace and democracy has never been more important than today’

“The exclusion of the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe was made inevitable by the atrocity of the crimes committed in Ukraine,” said Luigi Di Maio, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, addressing PACE today. He added that not only had Russia illegally and unjustifiably invaded another member State, but its aggression was carried out “in open violation of human rights and the norms of international humanitarian law”.

Mr Di Maio underlined that the decision to exclude the Russian Federation – taken jointly with the Assembly – and the decision to suspend all relations with Belarus, have many practical, legal and financial consequences for the countries concerned, as well as for the Organisation, in particular that the Russian Federation would cease to be a Party to the European Convention on Human Rights as of 16 September 2022.

He said that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and assistance to this country would remain a priority issue for the Council of Europe over the coming months, notably in the framework of the Session of the Committee of Ministers in Turin on 20 May. He stressed that the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, as well as the Secretary General, will therefore have to continue to work together with the same commitment to guide the Organisation in its choices, and join their efforts to build a strong and efficient Council of Europe. “Investing in peace and democracy has never been more important than today,” he said.

Mr Di Maio also reported on recent developments within the Committee of Ministers and mentioned a number of key events organised in the framework of the Italian Presidency with regards to its priorities, namely the fight against discrimination, cultural heritage as a resource for a democratic Europe, the promotion of children's rights and the empowerment of women.