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End of year message by the PACE President

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In 2023, we witnessed so many challenging and worrying developments in Europe. We are living in dangerous times. I share the worries of millions of Europeans, and I want these worries to be addressed by those who have to bear their responsibilities in all our member States of the Council of Europe. Now.

That is why I praised the solemn commitment of all heads of State and Government of Council of Europe member States in mid-May 2023 to act now. I welcomed their courage to recommit and to strengthen human rights, democracy and the rule of law of each and everyone in Europe, now and in the future. During their historic 4th Summit in Reykjavík, all member States did solemnly promise, in these challenging and dangerous times, to do their utmost to protect the citizens and State of Ukraine against Russia’s illegal war of aggression. And I am grateful that all member States of the Council of Europe were willing and able to commit themselves now to the Principles of Democracy, in the whole of Europe.

Now, our Heads of State and Government have to deliver the promises made the 4th Summit. The creation of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine is evidence of that and a team is already fully operative and working towards collecting potential evidence of damage in the pursuit of accountability and recovery for Ukraine. This important first step towards an international compensation mechanism for victims of the Russian aggression must be followed by many more, as requested by our Parliamentary Assembly.

In 2024, we must continue to do whatever it takes on this and many more projects in which the Council of Europe and our Parliamentary Assembly are involved. Ensuring the thorough and systematic implementation of the Istanbul Convention in member States and beyond has been one of my priorities. We cannot remain silent when half of our population faces a high threat of varying forms of violence and when the home is not a safe place for everyone. Our support systems to survivors must be improved and our education programmes should be used as tools to eradicate violence against women. Let us start it, now.

I also believe that the Council of Europe, and the Parliamentary Assembly in particular, should embrace a forward-looking vision and react to new challenges at the earliest possible stage, anticipating their possible impact on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It should stay ahead of developments and keep up with societal changes.

Thanks to its conventions and standard-setting role, the Council of Europe remains a cornerstone of the rules-based multilateral legal order in Europe. Let us make sure it will continue to be a beacon of light for our fundamental, universal values for the year to come.

My sincere best wishes for 2024 to everyone.

Tiny Kox
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe