The President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, commended the Parliamentary Assembly for its swift response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We must continue to condemn this violation of international law and norms. Therefore, let us all hope that the Reykjavík summit next month will deliver clear results: a renewed commitment to our common democratic values, strong support for Ukraine and solid means to ensure accountability for crimes committed in this horrendous war”, he said.
Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly as part of Iceland´s Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, the President emphasised the dangers of nationalism in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
“Nationalism is not nearing its end. But it must be a positive force. Positive patriotism can and should foster solidarity and support for each other in our societies. It should enhance our love and care for our nature and environment. It should connect our past, present and future. It should maintain and strengthen our diverse languages, cultures and customs”.
The President also raised the issue of gender equality, which is high on the agenda of his visit to Strasbourg. “It is now more than a decade since the Committee of Ministers adopted the Istanbul Convention to end violence against women. It is sad, however, to note a rise in mistaken objections to a convention about an end to violence. I encourage all member States, and non-members, to sign and ratify the Convention, and I repeat what I just said, that there will always be work to be done”.
“In only three weeks, European heads of state and government will gather in Iceland at the Council’s fourth summit since its establishment. Let us hope that it will be a fruitful gathering, to the benefit of the peoples of Europe. What I know for certain is the established truth that while the Council of Europe may not be the centre of power on this continent, it can and should remain its conscience”, he concluded.