Strasbourg, Monday, 7 November 2022
Ladies and gentlemen,
As President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, it is my honour to welcome you in this hemicycle at the 10th edition of the World Forum for Democracy.
Founded in the aftermath of the Second World War as a multilateral answer to the brutal unilateralism which ruined the whole of Europe and massacred millions of Europeans and citizens and soldiers around the globe, the Council of Europe brings together 46 member States, their governments and their parliaments, united in purpose and committed to resolving their differences through dialogue. In order to protect and promote peace, member States do oblige themselves to participate in developing European unity to support peace and prosperity, on the basis of respect for the rule of law, human rights and democracy.
This is one of the reasons why this Forum is so important, as it upholds these democratic values by asking what affects people today. It is a unique platform that engages with both political decision-makers, journalists and activists, inviting them to discuss the functioning of democracy in a world in which many are seriously challenging its very principles. Democracy is not a given, but something that has to be protected, developed and modernised every day everywhere. Otherwise it will erode.
As you know, this 10th edition coincides also with the resurgence of the greatest threat to democracy one can imagine. As we are meeting in Strasbourg, a war is ongoing in our member State Ukraine, waged by an authoritarian, terrorist regime in total disrespect of international law, brutally violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Every day this war lasts, lives are destroyed, crimes are committed.
As I have stated several times, there should be no impunity, neither for the President and Government, nor for the Parliament of the Russian Federation. Our Parliamentary Assembly supports the creation of a system of international justice, including a special ad hoc tribunal to deal with the crime of aggression.
As the Forum for Democracy intends to get to the heart of what has gone wrong but also assess the impact of the most promising initiatives presented over the last decade, let me express the hope for democracy to genuinely be revitalised on European soil and elsewhere. Without sustainable democracy, there is no sustainable future.
This forum brings together diverse voices from around the world to debate visions for a future which will secure peace and multilateralism, based on the respect of our fundamental principles and freedoms.
So again, on my behalf and on behalf of the whole Parliamentary Assembly, a warm welcome – I look forward to the deliverables of the Forum.