Advocating the Council of Europe’s role as the legal bedrock of Europe, promoting the human right to clean and healthy environment, working with the young people, continuing support to Ukraine in fighting against Russia’s aggression and thinking about post-war reconstruction, as well as addressing backsliding of democracy in Europe – these are the avenues for the Council of Europe to remain firmly fitted into the multilateral architecture, said the President of Slovenia Dr. Nataša Pirc Musar, in her address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe today.
Speaking on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s membership in the organisation, the President has stressed the importance of addressing regional problems, such as the ongoing tensions in the Western Balkans and massive brain drain among young people in the region, as well as larger European and global issues, such as deepening geopolitical polarisation and retuning of block mentality, the rise of human rights violations and populism, the weakening of the rule of law and democratic institutions in Europe, as well as environmental challenges.
“We know there is no planet B,” the President stressed. “We need to speed up our combined efforts against the climate crisis, as the clock is ticking dangerously close to too late”. She praised the work of the PACE members in furthering the right to a clean and healthy environment. “We will either stand united in the face of the triple planetary crisis of pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change, or we shall fall together, big and small, rich and poor states”, President stressed.
Speaking of Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, the President reiterated the importance of the work done by the Council of Europe towards ensuring justice, including through the establishment of the Register of damage resulting from Russia’s aggression, voiced her support to all efforts that would pave the road to a lasting and just peace in Ukraine, but stressed that “not a single meter on the road can be built without Ukraine itself”.
“What happens after the war in Ukraine is important too,” she said. “Ukraine will go through a massive rebuilding in so many ways, from reconstruction of infrastructure to reconstruction of relations with minorities living in Ukraine. Trust-building will be a slow and painful process – but without trust we cannot have security".
President Pirc Musar voiced her conviction that the Council of Europe must remain a global standard-bearer in addressing new and evolving human rights challenges, including those related to Artificial Intelligence, hailed the advances in EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights and to the Istanbul Convention, reiterated the imperative of full and timely implementation of the European Court’s judgments, as well as of promoting and protecting diversity and respect for all.
“I believe the Council of Europe plays a very important part in serving as the legal bedrock of Europe, and it can and should provide inspiration and guidance globally in setting up new norms to respond to new and evolving human rights challenges. But we shall only be credible insofar as we ourselves abide by the principle of equality and of the universality of human rights in our own backyards”, the President concluded.