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PACE President Tiny Kox, in final address to ministers, calls for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine

PACE President Tiny Kox
©Council of Europe

PACE President Tiny Kox, in a final address to the Council of Europe’s ministerial body, reviewed his two-year term of office during what he described as “a most challenging and dangerous period for the Council of Europe and our citizens” and said his main challenge had been to, firstly, avert and then end Russia’s terrible war of aggression. He once again called for “a just and lasting peace” in Ukraine which fully restored its territorial integrity.

“By crossing the borders of Ukraine, Russia also crossed the red lines of our organisation. This unjustified and unprovoked aggression led to our decision to exclude Russia from the Council of Europe on 15 March 2022. It was indeed sad that we had to expel a country after 26 years of membership, but it was a necessary step to take, and I am glad we dared to do so,” he said.

“In spite of this, we must recognise that until today, we have failed in our most fundamental goal – to preserve or to restore peace in Europe. And we cannot rest until this failure is remedied, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace returns to Ukraine, and the rule of law prevails over the rule of force,” he added.

Under his tenure, the President said he had sought accountability from Russia for its wrongful actions, pointing to the Assembly’s role in establishing a Registry of Damage for Ukraine – which “needs to be followed by compensation”, he added – and its pioneering call for a tribunal to try the crime of aggression.

“The Russian aggression against Ukraine reminds all of us that peace and prosperity can never be taken for granted in Europe. We must all protect and strengthen their foundations – human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” he said, highlighting the success of the Council of Europe’s historic summit in Reykjavik last year, and the “road to Reykjavik” process launched by the Assembly.

“I dare to say that many decisions taken in Reykjavik have been at least partly inspired by our Assembly, which really was strong and wise enough to act as a modern European agora, focusing on credible answers to incredibly difficult questions,” Mr Kox added.

The President urged ministers to ensure all of Europe’s citizens could have full access to the European Convention on Human Rights, with improved implementation of Court rulings, adding: “If Osman Kavala will not be released as soon as possible, we will all be losing.”

Mr Kox concluded by thanking the Committee of Ministers for its “wisdom and support” during his term, and underlined the honour of being able to serve as President of the Assembly: “It has been an honour and a pleasure!”