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Simon Coveney pledges to press for a fourth summit as soon as possible, to reaffirm the Council of Europe’s role as ‘the conscience of Europe’

Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence of Ireland

Irish Foreign and Defence Minister Simon Coveney, Chair of the Committee of Ministers, has said Ireland will do all it can to convene a Fourth Summit as soon as possible, to reaffirm the Council of Europe’s role as “the conscience of Europe”.

During an exchange of views with members of PACE’s Standing Committee in Dublin, he said he was “determined to build on the momentum” towards a summit generated by the recent Turin meeting.

“The Council of Europe was founded in the wake of war on our continent. And in the wake of war, it’s time for our Heads of State and Government to reconvene – to reaffirm their shared commitment to Europe’s conscience, to spur the EU’s ratification of the European Convention on Human Rights, and to write the next, peaceful chapter in our continent’s long history.”

“If not now, then when?” he asked, citing the title of the memoir by Italian Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. “And whether it be Kyiv, Reykjavik, Dublin, or Strasbourg, it matters not where our leaders meet. What matters is that they meet. And reinforce the relevance and the importance of this Organisation.”

The Council of Europe had already acted as “the conscience of Europe” in expelling Russia, and must now show the same conviction in supporting Ukraine, he said. Ireland’s Presidency objectives would serve the Council “as it adjusts to the expulsion of its largest member, and refocuses its resources on responding to the plight of another”, he added.

The Minister also recalled the other objectives of the Irish Presidency, underlining the importance of abiding by rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as Europe’s welcome for Ukrainian refugees, in line with the Council’s values and Conventions.