"The pursuit of peace based upon justice and international co-operation is vital for the preservation of human society and civilisation.”
This simple insight, cited in its founding Statute, inspired the creation of the Council of Europe in 1949, only four years after the end of a devastating world war. Yet it was not until 1989, with the end of the Cold War, that all European countries were gradually able to join this unique multilateral association of States dedicated to pursuing peace.
Last year the largest member State had to be expelled because it launched a unilateral war of aggression against another member State, a brutal violation of this principle.
Today, on the first day of 2023, I call on all governments and all parliaments in our 46 member States to once again commit themselves fully to the essential principles set out in the Statute, and to do their utmost to protect and promote peace and prosperity in the whole of Europe.
In 2023 I am very much looking forward to the fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe on 16-17 May in Reykjavik, which will decide how to restore, strengthen and reinvent multilateralism, based on international law, for the benefit of all the citizens of Europe.
There is no doubt, as our draft proposal for the Summit declares, that "the solidity and resilience of European democracies, their respect for human rights and their adherence to the rule of law are the best guarantees for each others’ prosperity, security and peaceful future”. I hope this will be our unanimous message to the Heads of State and Government.
My best wishes for the year to come to the brave people of our member State Ukraine, as well as to all the citizens of our member States, who co-operate sincerely “for the preservation of human society and civilisation". Nothing more, nothing less.
Happy New Year!
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Illustration by Kateryna Rak for the flashmob “Children of Ukraine for Peace”
organised by the Education Centre of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.