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26 January 2023 morning

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Opening of the sitting No 7

Debate under urgent procedure: Legal and human rights aspects of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Dear Colleagues,

Would you please take your seats so that we can start.

We have a tight schedule to deal with all the issues which are on our Agenda today.

I remind everybody that we should also stick to the speaking times.


The next item of business on the Agenda is the debate under urgent procedure on Legal and human rights aspects of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, presented by Mr Damien COTTIER, on behalf of Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK, head of the Center for Civil Liberties, whom I welcome very much, and 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will also make a statement at the beginning of the debate.


In order to finish by 12:00 p.m. when the Prime Minister of Iceland, representing the country that is now chairing the Council of Europe, I will have to interrupt the list of speakers at around 11:40 a.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote on the draft resolution.


First I call Mr Damien COTTIER, rapporteur.

You have 7 minutes now and 3 minutes at the end of the debate.


Switzerland, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Mister President.

Mariya was 15 years old. She was the president of her school's student council. She was interested in music. She liked to grow flowers. It is said that her dance performances enchanted with their beauty and grace. Mariya died on 14 January in Dnipro, along with many other civilians, snatched from life, snatched from her family by a missile that ripped through her building. We have all seen these unbearable images.

Mariya should not have died.

She should have been protected by this document, or rather by the successors to this document. This document is a replica of the original 1864 Geneva Convention. The Geneva Conventions exist to bring a little humanity into the hell of war. This was the will of the governments that negotiated and signed them at the time. These conventions, of which my country, Switzerland, is proud to be a depositary, set the rules of war to protect civilian populations, hospitals, schools, humanitarian personnel, wounded soldiers, prisoners of war, and so on.

Unfortunately, these universally ratified conventions seem to be just a piece of paper to some. Russian attacks against civilian populations are countless. With the members of the ten-person sub-committee of this Assembly who visited Boucha, Irpin, and Kyiv last June, we were able to see with our own eyes the immense damage done to residential areas by shellfire or the traces of summary executions carried out in the streets on unarmed civilians.

Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, will give us more testimonies later. Thank you, Madam MATVIICHUK, for your presence.

The report cites documentation from independent international bodies such as the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, the UN Independent Inquiry Commission, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Unfortunately, there is also growing evidence that official Russian rhetoric contains elements of public incitement to genocide or genocidal intent. It is important to point out the existence of such evidence and to remind states party to the Genocide Convention that if they are aware of a serious risk of genocide, they have an obligation, Mister President, to prevent it.

Mister President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues,

The report proposes that the Assembly call on states to further support the investigations of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, by strengthening their capacity, providing resources and expertise especially in the area of sexual violence. The report also stresses that the Ukrainian authorities must investigate all allegations of crimes, including those committed by their own forces, as is their obligation.

Our Assembly must also reiterate its call on Russia's leadership to fulfil its international obligations by demanding an immediate end to this conflict and the grave violations of international law. It also calls on Belarus to stop aiding in the committing of these crimes.

Mister President,

Viktor was a cheerful thirty-year-old man who loved life, his family and his country. He was one of the best film editors in Ukraine. He was a rocker, a bass player, a fan of electronic music. On 24 February, he didn't hesitate: he took his wife and daughter to a safe place, and went to join the army to defend his country. He soon became a unit commander. In late December, Viktor was killed by enemy artillery fire near the front line. Viktor should not have died, because this war should not have happened.

According to humanitarian law, Viktor, like other soldiers in combat, is not a prohibited target. Unlike the killing of civilians, this is not a war crime but a consequence of the conflict itself. Yet, his death remains unacceptable because the very outbreak of this conflict is illegal under peremptory international law, and under the UN Charter and many other acts.

That is why it is essential that not only war crimes and crimes against humanity –the competence of Ukrainian justice and the International Criminal Court– are prosecuted, but also the crime of aggression, namely the decision to start the conflict, the most serious crime of all because it is the root cause of all others.

We are, therefore, pleased that a growing number of international organisations and states support this proposal, which was already unanimously accepted by our Assembly in April 2022 following the report of our colleague Mr Aleksander POCIEJ. The Assembly was the first international body to take a decision in this sense. The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, then the European Parliament, then the European Commission and a large number of governments have since moved in this direction, in order to fill a jurisdictional void since the International Criminal Court does not have the competence to judge the crime of aggression in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution.

Will it be an obstacle to peace if we create this court, Mister President? No, on the contrary: I am convinced that a lasting peace can only be built if justice is done. Such a tribunal would give a clear signal to all governments that might consider launching an illegal war in the future: there are consequences. They are personal and they can be severe.

The report does not take a position on the exact form of such a tribunal or on its legal basis. There are several possibilities, and we mention them. It is important today that the Assembly call on the States, and in particular the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe who will meet for the Reykjavik Summit in May to support the creation of this tribunal.

The exact form will have to be determined by the consensus of States that must be formed. The role of the United Nations General Assembly seems to us to be very important, as is the reference to the definition of the crime of aggression in the Rome Statute. Then it will be important, in order to be consistent, that States also ratify the Rome Statute, including Ukraine, as well as the Kampala amendments.

Finally, Mister President, and this is the third chapter of my report, there can be no full accountability for aggression –and violations of the law– without reparation for damages. Russia's systems for establishing state responsibility will certainly prove insufficient, since the Convention, unfortunately, no longer applies as of 16 September 2022.

Our Council of Europe will have to find other mechanisms and we propose an international compensation mechanism which would have as its first step an international register of damages to record evidence and claims. The General Assembly of the United Nations has requested it, the Council of Europe has competences in this field, and we can move forward with a concrete step.

Other legal issues will have to be addressed. This report is not the last. The work must continue in this Assembly.

Today the Assembly can send a strong message: Mariya, Viktor, and all the others should be among us. There can be no lasting peace without justice.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Damien COTTIER, pour ton introduction. [In French: Thank you very much, Mister Damien COTTIER, for your introduction.]

Dear Colleagues,

Before starting the debate on the legal and human rights aspects of the Russian Federation aggression against Ukraine, it is an honour for me to give the floor first to the head of the Center for Civil Liberties, and 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK.

Dear Madam Oleksandra MATVIICHUK,

We are so happy to have you here with us today in this Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Russia's war of aggression against your country has caused profound suffering in Ukraine: thousands of civilians killed and injured, and countless seeking refuge elsewhere in the country or elsewhere in Europe.

Tonight while we were sleeping, citizens in Ukraine where alarmed by a new wave of attacks and new places of destruction were created by this war of aggression. New crimes were committed.

Dear Madam Oleksandra MATVIICHUK, you and your Center for Civil Liberties are making an outstanding effort to document these war crimes, human rights abuses, and abuse of power by demonstrating the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.

If I may, I would like to take this opportunity to recognise and acknowledge your great work, your efforts, and your personal and deep commitment towards promoting human rights and democracy in Ukraine.

It is for good reasons that you did receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.

Dear Madam Oleksandra MATVIICHUK, you wise thoughts and your vast experience –also horrible experience in this respect– are therefore of great interest for us, especially in this debate.

I'm so happy that you are here with us today, and I'm quite sure that the colleagues are going to listen with more than great interest to your introduction before we start this debate.

You have the floor, Madam Oleksandra MATVIICHUK .

Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK

Head of the Center for Civil Liberties, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate


Ladies and gentlemen,

I am a human rights defender and I have been documenting war crimes in this war which Russia started in 2014.

Back then, Ukraine obtained a chance for a quick democratic transformation after the collapse of the authoritarian regime.

In order to stop us on this way, Russia started this war and occupied Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, because Putin is not afraid of NATO; Putin is afraid of the idea of freedom.

After the large-scale invasion we face an unprecedented number of war crimes.

Russian troops deliberately destroyed residential buildings, churches, schools, hospitals; attacked evacuation corridors; established filtration camp systems; organised forcible deportations; and committed abductions, rapes, tortures and murders of civilians in the occupied territories.

This is a conscious policy: Russia uses war crimes as a method of warfare. Russia attempts to break people's resistance and occupy the country by means of inflicting immense pain on civilians.

We document this pain.

In just ten months, our joint efforts have documented 31 000 war crimes.

I interviewed hundreds of people who survived Russian captivity. They told of how they were beaten, raped, electrically shocked through their genitalia, their nails were torn away, their nails were drilled, they were compelled to write with their own blood.

One lady reported how her eye was dug out with a spoon.

There is no military justification for such actions.

The Russians did these horrific things only because they could.

I ask myself the question: whom do we document all of it for?

We face an accountability gap problem.

The Ukrainian legal system is overloaded with an extreme amount of war crimes. 

But the International Criminal Court restricts its investigations to just several selected cases and has no jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in terms of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Hence: who will provide justice for all victims of this war?

I work with people who have survived hell.

I am certain that - above and beyond their ruined lives, ruined families, ruined visions of the future - these people crave to restore their trust that justice exists, even though there delayed in time.

It is crucial not only for Ukraine. This is not a war of two states. This is a war of two systems: authoritarianism and democracy.

Putin attempts to convince the world that democracy, rule of law and human rights are fake values.

If they are genuine, why do they fail to defend anyone?

Why couldn't the whole UN system stop Russian atrocities?

Why do I - a human rights lawyer who has been applying the law to defend people for many years - presently have to answer the question of how to contribute to people's survival in the occupied territories by saying, "Provide Ukraine with modern weaponry, because for now, the law does not work." Although, I trust that it's temporary.

In the twentieth century, the civilised world made a significant step to establish law and justice.

At the Nuremberg trials, war crime perpetrators were tried after the Nazi regime had collapsed.

In the twenty-first century, we must move further. Justice must be independent from the magnitude of Putin's regime's power.

We cannot wait.

We must establish a special tribunal on the crime of aggression now, and hold Putin, Lukashenko and others guilty of these crimes accountable.

Yes, this is a courageous step.

But we have one strong argument: we must do it because it's the right thing to do.

The Council of Europe, as an international organisation which protects democracy, rule of law and human rights, must take the leading position in it.

The values of more than civilisation must be protected.

One more important point: besides the crimes of aggression, there are other international crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

These crimes don't have to remain only in our archives and reports of the international organisations.

The war has turned people into numbers.

The scale of war crimes grows so large, that it becomes impossible to recognise all of the stories, but I will tell you one:

Shortly after the large-scale invasion began, Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, was killed by the Russian military near his own house. This tragedy received huge media attention only because it was the first court trial after 24 February.

In the court, Oleksandr's wife, Kateryna, shared that her husband was an ordinary farmer, but he was her whole universe, and now she had lost everything.

This is the key meaning of justice. We must ensure justice for all - regardless of who the victims are, their social position, the type and level of cruelty they endured, and whether the media is interested in their case.

We need to return people their names, because the life of each person matters.

The member States of the Council of Europe have to assist the legal system of Ukraine to make it capable of effectively investigating and bringing those to responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

We must ingrain the international element into the level of national investigation and national justice.

We need to create a hybrid mechanism where national investigators work together with international investigators; where national judges work together with international judges.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should see the need to increase technical support and financing in order to strengthen the capacity of the overburdened law enforcement agencies and judicial system of Ukraine so that, in co-operation with international partners and civil society, they investigate numerous international crimes and ensure justice for everyone.

In order to achieve justice, it should be contributed to by the International Criminal Court and European countries' domestic courts, which are able to consider many cases under universal jurisdiction.

Honourable delegates of the Parliamentary Assembly,

We highly appreciate the political will expressed by many countries and international organisations to persecute the political leadership of Russia and Belarus for the committed crime of aggression.

It's time to transform this will into a decision empowering the launch of legal proceedings.

The fight for justice should not be limited only to the crime of aggression.

We require the support of foreign professionals, judges, prosecutors and detectives, in order to properly investigate and ensure court proceedings for dozens of thousands of international crimes, in compliance with the standards of justice, particularly Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sustainable peace which provides freedom from fear and long perspective is impossible without justice.

For decades, Russian troops have been committing war crimes in Chechnya, in Moldova, in Georgia, in Mali, in Libya, in Syria - in other countries of the world.

And they enjoyed impunity.

Russians believe they can do whatever they want.

We must break this circle of impunity, not only for Ukrainians - not only for the other people who suffered from Russian brutality - but for the people who can become the next target of Russian aggression - and prevent it, this time.

Thank you.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much, dear Oleksandra.

I am sure that the applause illustrates that the effort your call to us parliamentarians representing 46 member States of the Council of Europe, that we do not only have to show support in principle, but also in practice. You have informed us about the magnitude of the work that lies ahead in order to achieve what we all, in principle, say: that justice has to be done to the victims of this crime of aggression, this war of aggression by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.

Thank you very much.

I think this helps us in the in the debate that we are now going to start.

We first are going to listen to the five speakers of the political groups.

As the first speaker our colleague Sir Edward LEIGH from the United Kingdom representing the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance will start his contribution to the debate.

Sir Edward LEIGH, you have the floor.

Sir Edward LEIGH

United Kingdom, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


President, it is an honour to open this debate on behalf of my group and it is even more of an honour to follow the last speech. which was truly inspiring. It almost bought a tear to our eyes when we heard of that poor farmer. To the world, he may have been a farmer but to his family, he was the universe. And this explains the appalling, emotional and cruel impact of this war.

And the other phrase that we heard in that inspiring speech was that Putin, in reality, is not afraid of NATO. That is a lie. He is afraid of the concept of freedom. And that is what this Council of Europe is all about: justice and freedom and human rights.

There is no doubt that there have been numerous atrocities against civilians. The United Nations Independent Monitoring Commission, under Erik Møse, the independent Norwegian judge, visited many towns and villages. There has been great, egregious cruelty to civilians, including sexual violence, shooting in the head, cutting of throats. It is appalling and those who perpetrate this war must be brought to justice by an international independent tribunal for the crime of aggression.

As we heard from our rapporteur at the beginning of this debate, over the last 150 years, we have tried to tame the brutality of war with mechanisms such as a Geneva Convention, but it seems that this Russian aggression has no understanding or fear of the Geneva Convention or anything else. These people must be brought to task.

Of course, Europe must put it – it must do what it must do. It must send the tanks; it must do all it can. We in this Council cannot send any tanks; we only have our voice, but surely a voice is loud enough. And we have to proclaim that voice loudly. That this is an old-style war of aggression. It is not about fear of NATO or anything else, it is simply trying to recreate the Russian Empire. Well, the Russian Empire is over. The era of empires is over. The British Empire is over, the French Empire is over, the Turkish Empire is over. This is now the era of freedom and independent nations who want their own sovereignty and that is all that Ukraine asks for.

And that is what we should give them: support. So when we say, "Long live Ukraine" we are not talking about nationalism, we are saying, "Long live freedom and humanity".

And I hope you will forgive me if I quote Winston Churchill, who said, in 1941, and this could be said of Ukraine now, "Humanity with all its fears, with all its hopes of future years, is hanging breathless on thy fate."


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Sir Edward LEIGH.

Next in the debate I call Mr George KATROUGALOS, from Greece, who speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr George KATROUGALOS, you have the floor.


Greece, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Dear Colleagues,

Recently, the President of our Assembly suggested to me to read again the preamble of the Statutes of our organisation. There, I found this remarkable phrase that it is very pertinent to what we are discussing. I quote: "Peace based upon justice and international cooperation is vital for the preservation of human society and civilisation".

Exactly for this reason, because peace, and justice, and international co‑operation cannot be dissociated, we remain very skeptical for the establishment of an ad-hoc tribunal which could undermine the moral authority and the legal jurisdiction of the ICC.

I remind you that after the amendments of Kampala of 2010, aggression is the fourth core crime that the ICC can have under its jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, we have only 44 ratifications for this agreement. The United Kingdom has not ratified. Neither has France nor my own country, Greece.

This is butter to the bread of the Russian propaganda, that the invasion is not a violation of international legality, but just an incident, of the quarrel, of the dispute between the West and Russia.

I suggest that we push our countries for the ratification of the Kampala agreement. Try to find through the General Assembly of the United Nations a way that the procedural issues that remain should be overcome.

The second point of my intervention, dear colleagues, is the other thing that our Statute reminds us of: peace.

I'm not at all a proponent of the cynical realism in international relations, but I found very interesting the Kissinger's recent article in The Spectator. You must have read it. It is entitled "How to avoid another world war". Among analogies between the current situation and the situation in the First World War, which could have ended in 1916, he suggests that it is time for a negotiated peace in Ukraine. Also, I quote, he warns "against of dreams of breaking up Russia which could unleash nuclear chaos".

The European institutions or the European countries should also proceed with initiatives for peace. Peace, of course, by respecting the Ukrainian sovereign rights fully, because peace and justice can't be dissociated.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, George.

Next in the debate I call Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR from Iceland. And she speaks on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.

Sunna, you have the floor.

Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR

Iceland, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister President.

Impunity for war crimes is a driving factor for war crimes.

The fact that perpetrators of war crimes very often escape justice is a big reason why war crimes are so readily committed in conflicts all over the world.

This is why we must do our very best to end impunity for war crimes. In the case of Russia's horrendous war of aggression against Ukraine, there's not only impunity for war crimes, but the terrible practice of Russian soldiers being awarded for war crimes with medals and promotions.

We have seen with our own eyes –those of us who participated in the fact-finding visit to Kyiv, Irpin and Bucha last year– that Russia's strategy of attack is to attack civilian targets on purpose and on a massive scale. Schools, kindergartens, hospitals, shopping malls, apartment buildings, and even playgrounds were destroyed by Russian bombs.

I witnessed with my own eyes the devastation caused by this genocidal invasion. Seeing a clothes rack with what used to be clean laundry left to dry in someone's laundry room left bare by a bomb that had opened the entire apartment, seeing a kitchen table with coffee cups and cutlery standing on a ledge of rubble, spotting a teddy bear in the ruins left by Russian bombs made one thing very clear to me and my colleagues: that the biggest crime of all is the war itself.

That is why, dear colleagues, this report is so important because it lays out a roadmap to justice.

We must try Putin and his accomplices for the crime of aggression. We must set up a special tribunal on the crime of aggression to bring them to justice. Because to end war crimes, we must end impunity of war crimes. To end wars, we must end impunity for the crime of all crimes against peace: the crime of aggression.

Dear Colleagues,

I speak not only for myself but for all of us in the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group when I ask you to support this report with all of the important recommendations it contains and also when I thank the rapporteur for setting before us a roadmap to justice.

On behalf of all of us in the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group I declare our full solidarity with the brave people of Ukraine and our strong hope for peace for your nation.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR.

Now in the debate, I call Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO, from Spain.

She speaks on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO, you have the floor.

Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO

Spain, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister President.

I would like to thank and congratulate Mr Damien COTTIER and the Secretariat for this important and excellent report about the legal and human rights aspects of this terrible war.

We, as the Group of the European People's Party, would like to strengthen the importance of two points that we have heard here this morning.

The need to establish a new Nuremberg tribunal to judge the terrible crimes and provide justice and hope to all the Ukrainians.

Secondly, the compensation that the Russian Federation should pay for the dreadful destruction.

Since 2014, Russia has been committing numerous crimes on the territory of Ukraine, but since February 2022, the scale of these crimes has become unprecedented. Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel, Borodianka, Mariupol, Izium became cities known to everyone in the world for the horror and destruction they are suffering.

We need to bring justice to those involved in committing international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of genocide, as soon as possible.

There is an unprecedented involvement of other countries in the investigation of crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine with a joint investigation team. There is also an important involvement of the International Criminal Court, which unfortunately does not have the authority to investigate the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

Therefore, we must take the initiative and create such a mechanism that will be able to investigate and prosecute the highest political and military leadership of the Russian Federation for committing the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Such a mechanism is the special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

To this end, Ukraine has proposed to submit a draft resolution on the creation of such a mechanism to the UN General Assembly for consideration.

The creation of this special tribunal opens a window of opportunity for that part of Russian elites, who realise that Putin's regime is leading Russia into an abyss.

We need a new Nuremberg trial.

The second point, is that Russia, the aggressor, should be... is causing enormous destruction on the territory of Ukraine: shuttered cities, damaged environment ecosystems, crippled economy, at least massive human losses.

Therefore, there is a need to create a new and innovative compensation mechanism to collect, assess, and ultimately provide compensations for hundreds of thousands of claims against the Russian Federation for direct losses stemming from the aggression against Ukraine.

The main concept of the international compensation mechanism is the construction of a coherent system that could ensure real compensation for damages caused by aggression.

Therefore, as the report stresses, we should establish the international registry of damages to record in documentary form of evidence and claims, information or loses, injuries and damages, to all legal and natural persons concerned, as well as the state of Ukraine, caused by Russia.

Finally, we would like to welcome the decision of all the countries who have decided to continue supporting Ukraine with all the necessary means: economical, political, and of course, military.

It is the right thing to do, as Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK has just said.

I would like to stress our solidarity and gratitude to the brave Ukrainians who continue their fight for our freedom and values, the values of this Council of Europe.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO.

Sorry for interrupting you but if we want to give as many members as possible the floor then we have to stick to 3 minutes.

Next in the debate and the last speaker on behalf of the political groups is Mr Eerik-Niiles KROSS from Estonia and he speaks on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in Europe.

Eerik-Niiles, you have the floor. 

Mr Eerik-Niiles KROSS

Estonia, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister President.

First I would like to congratulate Mr Damien COTTIER for this very important report. We are quite pleased with the outcome.

The Russian-escalated war of aggression against Ukraine has lasted for almost a year and it feels like a long time, but it's not. For anyone between Russia and Germany this is unfortunately a regular occurrence. Because there is a tradition of Russian imperial aggressive wars against its neighbours going back to at least 1918. It's at least a hundred years of Russian imperial wars.

And those wars have two things in common:

1. They have violated international law.

2. The planners, initiators and perpetrators of these wars have never been tried nor sentenced. There was never a Nuremberg for Russian aggressive wars, and the victims of these aggressions never saw justice.

There is a very sad tradition of a vicious cycle of impunity of Russian war criminals that we are still living in Europe. The war against Georgia in 1921 or 2008, against Finland 1939, Hungary 1956, the Baltic states 1940. The list is long. All these wars have been conducted violating international laws, all these wars have been fought in violating Geneva Conventions, and almost all of them have clearly been aggressions, violating jus ad bellum – the right to war – at least since the crime of aggression was defined in 1928.

And today we, again, are saying with this report and with our speeches: no more impunity for crime of aggression, no more impunity for crime of genocide, no more impunity for crimes against humanity, no more impunity for war crimes. But as the German foreign minister told us just two days ago, declarations are not enough.

This report outlines some steps that must be taken now to make sure that the criminals in this war will be punished. We need an international special tribunal to investigate and try the crime of aggression: the mother of the war crimes.

As the Nuremberg judgment says "War of aggression is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole".

Therefore it's alarming that the world in a hundred years has not been able to agree upon a court that would have universal jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. We need to set up a tribunal for Russian aggressors. We need to reform the ICC system and Rome Statute so that this kind of court would be there in the future. And we, in all particularly welcome the recommendation to immediately set up an ad hoc prosecutor's office for the special tribunal, even if the tribunal itself has not yet been formed.

We should address this in Reykjavik and, to sum it up, the report is good. We need to keep pushing this. Freedom of Ukraine depends on victory in war. Freedom of Russia depends on ending the vicious cycle of impunity. And the future of Europe depends not only on Ukrainian victory, but on the end of impunity of aggressors.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Eerik-Niiles KROSS.

But please, colleagues, stick to 3 minutes as a matter of solidarity to get as many people involved as possible in the debate.

Next in the debate I call Mr Darko KAEVSKI from North Macedonia. Darko, you have the floor. Your microphone, please. The other one.


North Macedonia, SOC


Thank you, Mr President.

First of all, I want to send congratulations to Mr Damien COTTIER for his excellent report.

Every democratic state stands in solidarity with Ukraine and continues to support the Ukrainian people. Thousands of people have been killed as a result of Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine. Civilian infrastructure, including kindergartens, schools, universities, hospitals, buildings, houses and cultural centres, are being targeted every day.

The armed attack of the Russian Federation on Ukraine has led to a grave decline of human rights in the country, with thousands of civilians killed and injured, torture and ill-treatment. Eighteen thousand victims have been documented since the beginning of the aggression. The real number of dead or injured people is much higher. There are millions of Ukrainian refugees across Europe and almost five million are internally displaced. 

We call on Russia to immediately end the attack. This war endangers Europe and the future of our security and our democracies depend on it. The price to pay is on every one of us. We must not tolerate the daily killing of civilians, the horrible torture and other violence against human rights.

The Russian forces are also devastating the environment in which the people are living. Their explosions and fires are endangering the air with toxic gases and threatening the safety of nuclear reactors. The destruction of the industrial facilities is contaminating the waters and the soil with chemicals. All leaders of democracies should immediately act.

This is a lesson for every one of us and we must remember that all autocracies are a danger and a threat to peace. The radical extremist narratives are not to be trusted and we should cancel them right away. This is why we should act to stop every emerging dangerous opinion in every democratic society. We must act jointly and make a strategy of change to ensure the future for the new generations.

In the coming times, we have to strengthen regional co-operation even more, eliminate the potential for new conflicts and ensure stability and safety for all.

Once again, we are standing in solidarity with Ukraine and condemn Russia's unprovoked military aggression.

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Mr Darko KAEVSKI, for sticking to the speaking time.

Now in the debate I call Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, from Lithuania.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mister Tiny KOX.

We were first, from international organisations, not only to condemn, but structurally to evaluate. After 24 February, this terrible second wave of terror from the Russian Federation against Ukraine, who is now a firm candidate member of the European Union.

From my point of view, my question is how this organisation will lead among other international organisations the fight against terror set up on us, on Europe, by the biggest dictatorship in the world.

What should be done?

Mister Damien COTTIER, thank you for your report. I was glad to initiate at the beginning a motion for resolution, if you remember. I'm very glad that your efforts were so scrupulous.

We should be one step ahead.

Yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany spoke that all credentials, Europe and even the European Union will shift to this organisation for evaluation of the next steps.

Should we assemble in Reykjavik, in the country that first recognised independence of the Baltic countries, Iceland, in the cradle of democracy like Iceland, only to say what we think or to settled institutions.

Institutions should be settled. Of course, Mr Tiny KOX, you will ask me the same thing: that's only Europe, it's not Africa, it's not Latin America, it's not enough voices for like-minded countries to establish an international tribunal. An international tribunal to evaluate all those levels of war of aggression and other levels, and to go ahead. But the finances should be set.

Two years ago, somebody asked a question that Russia will not pay contribution to the European Union budgets. I'm sorry, shame on those who raised the question. Is the question from our side is a question not what is in Mr Putin's head and how to avoid the Third World War and a nuclear bombing.

Our question is how to defend the democratic world and how to cement that. How to cement the democratic world together. The Council of Europe should be the organisation going ahead with this cementation in the world if the United Nations organisations are failing.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Sorry, we now have passed the 3 minutes.

Everybody will now have 3 minutes.

Next in the debate I call Ms Larysa BILOZIR from Ukraine.

You have the floor.


Ukraine, ALDE


Dear Mister President, dear colleagues.

I would like to commend the rapporteur Mr Damien COTTIER for this excellent report, as it is of utmost importance at the time, and already 11 months Putin is destroying with impunity an entire state in Europe in front of the eyes of the civilised world, trying to wipe the Ukrainian nation off the face of the Earth, violating, or I should say raping international law in a most perverted manner.

I am convinced that this report will, for sure, encourage and send a clear message to the international community that perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, can be and will be held accountable.

Thank you, Damien, for the enormous work that you have done not only by preparing this report, but also that in April, together with 10 of your colleagues of ad hoc sub-committee made a great fact-finding mission to Ukraine, thoroughly gathering information from Ukrainian authorities on crimes committed by Russians, in order to focus on the system of accountability for the crimes.

I remember, as we spent a very tough and very busy day meeting with prosecutor generals, with the authorities, visiting Bucha, Irpin, and this time the general prosecutor reported to you about 20 000 war crimes committed by the Russian occupiers.

I must inform you: today, 9 months after your visit, this number has increased by four times. Ukraine has already recorded 80 000 crimes, including the murder of more than 9 000 civilians, including the murder of 453 children. And this suggests a tip of iceberg.

The aggressor still consistently continues to cause new destruction on the territory of my country. Our land is literally bleeding. Every day, the best people of our country give up their life to protect our land. Civilians are dying, and we are still in the stage of discussion and resolutions, but not concrete deeds and actions on special international courts and reparations from the Russian frozen funds.

We need not only words, but deeds.

So far, the proposal to create a special tribunal for aggression has received support, first in this Assembly, then in European Parliament, the European Commission, the Parliament Assembly of NATO. But let's give up words in favour of deeds, finally.

Today Ukrainians are simply killed because they are Ukrainians. Each day more and more young people give their lives to protect our sovereignty and freedom. You don't even imagine how for me, as majoritarian, hard to go to funerals. All my constituency and to see very young, brave, best people dead. How people, local communities bend their needs, meet in funerals cars from the front to see the whole universe of the families being ruined forever.

We are grateful to our allies for support.

We need your support in weaponry to stop the destruction of Ukraine.

Putin's regime must pay a fair price for bringing war to Europe.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Larysa BILOZIR.

The next speaker is Mr Erkin GADIRLI from Azerbaijan.

You have the floor.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Dear colleagues, I feel very proud to be part of this organisation at this particular time in history because I see how unanimous we are and how full-heartedly we support Ukraine in the committee meetings or plenary sessions, all resolutions reports and discussions, well, I saw the unanimity.

And this particular report was also unanimously adopted in the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which I am also proudly a member of. And I am very grateful to our Chairman, who happens to be the rapporteur and also led our team in our visit to Kyiv, Bucha, Irpin.

But I cannot help mentioning one particular point: had this organisation or the international community, at large, paid enough attention and taken all necessary steps with regard to the occupation of territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova, the war against Ukraine probably would not have happened. The international community paved the way for Russian aggression by not being attentive enough to previous facts of the occupation of member states of this great organisation.

This report is excellent. We discussed it at length in our Committee. By saying at length, I do not mean to imply that there were some disputes or arguments or disagreements. No, because it is a legal report, it requires precision, concretisation, vitalisation, so that is why we have to be careful when we are choosing terms.

These reports focus mainly on the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal to investigate the crime of aggression, which nowadays, is impossible to do in the International Criminal Court (ICC) because Russia is not a member of the ICC and the Security Council of the United Nations cannot refer this crime to the ICC because we all know that Russia is going to veto it.

Again, without taking much of your time and, as you recommended, to save time for other speakers, I will finish my words by fully supporting this report and I am sure that will this report will also be unanimously adopted.

Slava Ukraini (long live Ukraine said in Ukrainian).

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Erkin GADIRLI.

Now we are going to Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN, from Finland.

You have the floor.


Finland, EPP/CD


Mister President,

Dear Colleagues,

Thanks to Mr Damien COTTIER for the excellent report.

I also want to thank Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK for your emotional speech.

Russia has violated international humanitarian law in its assault on sovereign Ukraine for almost a year now. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have died or been wounded in the defence of their home country. Millions have been forced to either leave their homes or live in inhuman conditions with little water, heat, food or shelter, and with constant fear.

Russia’s atrocities are clear and conscious acts against humanity. Besides its illegal assault, genocide and war crimes, Putin’s Russia poses also a threat to global security. By attacking Ukraine, it is attacking the world where people want to interact, compete and co‑operate peacefully by common rules and mutual respect.

Dear Colleagues,

The Russian Federation’s rhetoric against Ukraine probably incites genocide. All states party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide have a duty to prevent and punish it. I strongly advocate the creation of a special international criminal tribunal for prosecuting the crimes Russia has committed in Ukraine.

I call all States, international organisations and the whole international community to support the establishment of this tribunal. There is no other way for a more secure and just tomorrow than to identify and prosecute the responsible Russian political and military leaders for their war crimes.

For this I also strongly urge member States to support the investigation of Russian war crimes against humanity and genocide by the ICC Prosecutor. For a successful investigation the Ukrainian authorities must be supported with sufficient resources and expertise.

Finally, I want to reaffirm the call to set up an international compensation mechanism for repairing the damage caused to Ukraine and its citizens. As an organisation for defending democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the Council of Europe can effectively lead its setup and management.

Finally, it is our obligation to help people who have survived hell and find the road to justice.

Slava Ukraini.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Next in the debate I call Mr Ahmet YILDIZ from Turkey.


Türkiye, NR


Dear President,

Dear Colleagues,

Russia’s unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine is about to enter its second year. There, sadly, does not appear to be an end in sight to this war.

As the destruction continues, civilians are paying the highest price. Since October, we have been witnessing indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, missile strikes at multiple urban locations, especially targeting civilian infrastructure. This continues with alarming frequency.

In this regard, I thank the rapporteur for his report elaborating on how we could hold those responsible for atrocities to account.

First and foremost, as suggested in the report, all relevant international conventions, in particular with regard to the protection of civilians, should be upheld, and all obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law must be fully respected.

Allegations and some factual scenes about crimes perpetuated under the fog of war should be investigated and the facts should be clearly established. This process should be transparent and credible.

I would like to reiterate my support for a thorough inquiry into crimes committed during the conflict.

Dear Colleagues,

As I explained in other meetings that Türkiye had tried to establish a long-term comprehensive strategic relationship with Ukraine before this war of aggression. Unfortunately, this aggression happened, it couldn't be aborted, it couldn't be deterred by the international community.

The conditions in the Black Sea, the Turkish geopolitical location, and international conditions put Türkiye in a unique situation, in a unique position to do something that others cannot do, as a Black Sea riparian state and as responsible for implementation of the Montreal Convention.

Some of them are about these military things, some are about civilian aspects such as helping manage this grain corridor, exchange of prisoners, maybe in the future about generational power for the civilians for the Ukrainian people.

I am proud that Turkish diplomacy, military, and political leadership plays this is role in favour of Ukraine without forgetting that Russia is the aggressor, and Ukraine is the victim.

Thank you.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Ahmet YILDIZ.

Now, we are going to listen to Mr Paulo PISCO, from Portugal.

You have the floor.

Mr Paulo PISCO

Portugal, SOC


... to Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK for her important speech and for the courageous work she, and her organisation, are doing.

Colleagues, all the atrocities committed by Russian armies in Ukraine show with no doubt that human rights are being violated in all dimensions and that we are in face of all kinds of war crimes, from aggression to genocide: absolute lack of humanity, indiscriminate killings, destruction of entire cities, use of forbidden weapons, destruction, violence, torture, forcibly displaced children and helpless persons. The forced adoptions of children by Russian families and the process of Russification by deleting Ukrainian identities is a horrible crime that we should vehemently denounce.

The absurd of the situation is that in spite of the huge amount of proofs and evidences of all kinds that are being collected by an important international coalition and several international courts, the Russian political and military perpetrators of all those crimes may not came to judgement and condemnation, so complex are the mechanisms of international justice. That possibility is a nightmare that should not happen.

As it is totally absurd that in face of the tragedy of the war in Ukraine, the United Nations are blocked because of the veto power of Russia, something that is not tolerable for the future.

In the barbaric war in Syria, Bashar Al Assad crossed a red line using chemical weapons. Nevertheless, he still lives in impunity, ruling the country, never being judged, which shows the limitations and constraints of international law and how the force of law became weaker and the world more unpredictable and dangerous.

If after the war there will be no justice, or unsatisfactory condemnations to all crimes committed, we will be hurting very badly the value of international law and all conventions that patiently we have been building along decades to bring civilisation and humanity to the world.

It is also a dangerous precedent, because there’s always countries that will feel more confident to aggress other nations and commit so many crimes as those that are now being committed by Russia.

This report and its recommendations deserve full support of this chamber. But we also must appeal to the Council of Europe and to all international organisations to speed up this process and work for an international justice, less complex, much faster, and more effective, to condemn war crimes and criminals, and therefore, to contribute to build a new architecture of international justice for a world more fair, safe and free.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Paulo PISCO.

Now we are going to listen to Ms Ingjerd SCHOU, from Norway.

You have the floor.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD


Dear President,

Dear Colleagues,

First of all let me commend our rapporteur, Mr Damien COTTIER, for having prepared a thorough report on an urgent matter.

Russia must be held accountable for their aggression against Ukraine. The international community must come together to establish a special international tribunal.

President, nearly a year has passed since 24 February 2022.

The Ukrainian people are having their lives ruined by war. They have suffered from the actions of their neighbours not only since last year, but since 2014, when Crimea was illegally annexed.

What we will examine today, though, is how to hold Russia accountable for the act of aggression, and how to ensure accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and possible genocide.

After 24 February, our Assembly was quick to act. Our organisation, the Council of Europe, excluded a member. There was no doubt that Russia’s actions were in breach of the Statute of the Council of Europe.

President, when it comes to war it is rarely as clear as it is now. Russia is the aggressor of this war.

How can we hold Russia and the political and military leadership to account?

Our international system of justice is not rigged for the situation we are in.

Our organisation, the OSCE, the United Nations, and many other of our multilateral structures were founded in the wake of the Second World War. They were established to prevent history from repeating itself, to prevent another world war, for humankind to live in peace with their human rights respected.

Now, we are in the situation where one of the victors of 1945 is the aggressor: an aggressor with a seat on the United Nations Security Council blocking prosecution through the International Criminal Court.

President, Mr Damien COTTIER's elaborations on how a special tribunal can be set up and how international crimes committed in Ukraine can be investigated and prosecuted are therefore commendable.

When we adopt this draft resolution, we will give a strong signal to our governments to move forward to establish the special tribunal, to make sure that heinous crimes committed in Ukraine are not only investigated, but also prosecuted, and to make sure that aggressors and perpetrators are held accountable.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms SCHOU.

The next speaker is Mr André GATTOLIN from France.

Mr GATTOLIN, the floor is yours.


France, ALDE


Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

First of all, Mr President, I would like to thank you for inviting Mrs Oleksandra MATVIICHUK to speak here.

Madam, I would like to express all the emotion we feel for having been, often in a partial way, defenders of people who have suffered. What you yourself must feel, beyond the harshness of what people have suffered, is something terrible and I want to congratulate you and your organisation. I believe that this Nobel Peace Prize is fully deserved.

As you said, you have documented 31 000 war crimes. You mentioned it soberly, as our Greek colleague reminded us a few moments ago: there are war crimes, crimes - I would say - against humanity that we can hardly document. It is the mass deportation of people to the territories annexed or occupied by the Russian Federation; hundreds of thousands of children who are forced to abandon either their families, sometimes orphans but who also have Ukrainian relatives with whom they could be taken in, who are forced to go to the territory of the Russian Federation; special decrees are created to have them adopted, in a rhetoric that can be found in the Kremlin's propaganda press "humanitarian".

What happens to these children? What is the purpose, when we read some newspapers that explain to us that it is to proceed with denazification, that we are doing de-ukrainisation, that we are going to transform these children into good little Russians as we do with the Uyghur children in the so-called People's Republic of China?

I say that this is a scandal. There are hundreds of thousands of cases that will be very difficult to investigate, but for which the responsible authorities - not only military, but political, civil authorities of the Russian Federation - will have to be accountable. This situation is abominable because it is, strictly speaking, a case of the crime of genocide. At some point, we will have to dare to use this word. When one proceeds with ethnic cleansing of territories, supposedly to protect Russian-speaking populations from a so-called genocidal crime, one is proceeding with a mass genocide, with the destruction of a culture, with the enslavement of children, with their deportation. Because it is not a question of forced displacement: in the strict sense of the word, when you cross a border, it is a deportation. Well, I believe that we must also take up this issue.

And then I will conclude by underlining the excellent work done by our rapporteur Damien COTTIER, whom I fully support. I hope that we will vote unanimously, that the Heads of State who will meet in Reykjavik will take up this issue and that our Commissioner for Human Rights in this institution, which I find a little too silent, will also take up this issue fully.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now we are going to listen to Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO from Ukraine.

You have the floor.


Ukraine, EC/DA


Dear colleagues, many of you here ask me, "How is life in Ukraine now?" I want to show you. First, remember please, how did you wake up this morning? Can you remember? I want to show you how Ukrainians woke up this morning. [ALARM SOUNDS] Millions of Ukrainians, including my children, woke up like this this morning – and many mornings – during this almost one year. And there are new victims already in Ukraine.

And we are meeting here for the fifth time from the start of this awful war – aggression, invasion – and Ukraine continues to bleed.

Yes, we need a new Nuremberg against new Nazis. Yes. But first, to be able to have a Nuremberg, the Nazis should be defeated. Before Nuremberg happened, the Nazis were defeated in the 20th century. And before a new Nuremberg will happen, new Nazis should be defeated. That is the first thing. That is why – you know when Minister Baerbock was here and she said, "This not a good place to speak about weaponry," when we asked her several times, "We are here for peace and justice." But you cannot achieve peace without weaponry today. Because there is war. You cannot achieve peace by demilitarising like we do in recommendations and resolutions today. Yes, we have very thankful for all tanks that we received. Finally, there is this decision. Thanks for tanks. Danke schoen (thank you in German). But before the start of the invasion, Russia had more than 13 000 tanks. Thirteen thousand! You cannot stop Russian tanks by recommendations, words, resolutions and other things. You need tanks and not 12, not 31, not 50.

And today, the dove of peace is an F-16 for Ukraine. It is a Gripen for Ukraine. It is fighters for Ukraine, so we should do this now – now! Winter is not coming; winter is already here! And if you want peace now in Europe, everybody, I invite you to come to Ukraine. All those politicians in Europe who were not in Ukraine until now, I think you are not right, you should come and see everything with your own eyes. No resolutions but weaponry. No speaking but weaponry. No debates but weaponry. Weaponry today to stop the evil and after this a new Nuremberg.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Next in the debate I call Mr Indrek SAAR from Estonia.

You have the floor.

Mr Indrek SAAR

Estonia, SOC


Dear colleagues,

I'm sure that no one in this hall remains unconvinced that Russia's leadership is a hotbed of imperialist ambitions. And that it is ready to reach its goals by any means available, by violating agreements, lying, torturing and killing innocent people.

We might think that after 24 February this has become so painfully obvious that no one could overlook it, but sadly this is not the case.

The Russian regime has got away with lying to its people for decades. And this huge country has an incredible number of people who have swallowed these lies: hook, line and sinker.

This means, for example, that many generations have grown up in the knowledge that Second World war or the Great Patriotic War – as it is called in Russia – was the noble liberation mission of the Russian nation to clean the world of evil.

The fact that while doing this the Russian soldiers raped and butchered their way through Europe with the same savagery that we have now seen in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, and in many places in Ukraine is something that most of the Russians have never been forced to acknowledge.

Sad to say that most of the people in Russia have never needed to accept any shame for the fact that their country violently stripped large numbers of Europeans of their opportunity to live in free society, or that millions of people were deported from their homes, their lives were crushed. Because they never faced the truth.

This list could go on and on. And we could all add multiple examples on how Russia has systematically crushed human rights and international agreements which hold up the civilised world.

If we want the world order to continue resting on international agreements, we need to finally hold the aggressor accountable. All of Russia – from its leaders down to every simple hard-working citizen – must realise that everyone is accountable for their actions. And these actions have been unforgivable!

We need to be able to tell the truth in a way that reaches every individual. We need to do it for ourselves and for every Russian. Only then will there be hope for Russia as well.

This is why we must establish an international special tribunal as soon as possible and to enforce the composition mechanisms for all the material and moral damages that Russia has caused to Ukraine and to the Ukrainian people.

I thank the rapporteur and everyone who has contributed to this topic. This report is a step in the right direction.

Thank you.

Slava Ukraini.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you Mr Indrek SAAR.

Now we are going to listen to Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV from Ukraine.

You have the floor.


Ukraine, EPP/CD


Mr President, dear colleagues,

I want to thank the rapporteur for this excellent document because it's not only a document. It's really a new history that you started to write together with us. It's very important to have correct definitions in this history - and you did it as a rapporteur. I thank all the others who did their excellent work to have the excellent report in this minute.

What kind of definitions?

It's not a war in Ukraine - it's a Russian aggression against Ukraine. It's very important that we have this definition.

It's not like a war; it's the exact date of this war, and the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

It's February 2014.

And secondly, it's February 2022.

It's very important to understand this, because without these definitions, we can't do further work: the work for a future special tribunal.

It's very important to understand that it's not only war crimes that we analysed in these previous days  – sexual war crimes – but it is, as well, war crimes of the army of Putin, and as well of his private army – the Wagner troops. It's very important that we also have this in this report.

This report is maybe only the beginning of future reports, where we need to analyse step by step what we had to do in the 21st century to analyse how it was possible that a new fascist regime – who were sitting in this building together with us – who now still try to protect them in different international organisations, including the United Nations organisation.

We need to define all this.

This report is a very excellent report, also because it's a good way for NATO countries, for the European Union, and maybe for the United Nations organisation: how to analyse and to stop future wars.

I think all this together gives us an excellent mechanism on how to prevent war and how to stop war. Because war did not start in Ukraine – it started in Georgia in 2008, and we must understand that we do not stop this war this time.

I think that this report is only the beginning, but it is a good beginning.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV.

Now, I call in the debate Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN, from Finland.


Finland, SOC


Mr President,

We are having here, just now, an exceptionally important discussion on the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Thanks very much, Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK, for your very strong, valuable and even emotionally touching speech. Thank you very much indeed.

You noted that the war which Russia is carrying out in Ukraine, that Russia has committed many very serious war crimes. You requested us to consider seriously that we need a special international tribunal to address this.

I fully agree. I fully agree. This type of war crimes Russia is now committing cannot be without consequences. As you stated, there is no peace without justice.

You also said Putin is not afraid of NATO, Putin is afraid of democracy. Indeed, indeed. Putin is afraid of democracy, which means that he is actually afraid of his own people, his own people's aspirations and rights for democracy, human rights and rule of law. That's what he's battling, that's what he's afraid of.

The democratic will of Ukrainians, in a similar way as the democratic will of the Belarusian people, is a threat. So we can say, actually, that Ukraine, Ukrainians, are not fighting only for their national existence and sovereignty, and they are preserving their own democratic system. But they are also fighting for the Russian people's right for democracy.

Sir Edward LEIGH, from the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance, started his presentation here and said that the Ukrainian war ends when Russia's imperial dreams. I also agree with that one. This war is an obsolete one. It belongs to the last century. Exactly this is the last battle of the collapse of the Soviet Union which has actually gone on these battles on former Soviet Union regions for 30 years. We know, and you have listed them very many times here.

Mr Vladimir Putin stated in a speech to the nation in 2005 saying that the biggest geopolitical catastrophe was the collapse of the Soviet Union. Which obviously implied that the imperial dreams were left behind.

Mr Brezinski has noted that Russia without Ukraine is not any more imperial. That's now actually a fact. The national identity in Ukraine is now the highest ever.

Unfortunately, I would say so, the biggest geopolitical catastrophe was not actually the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the never materialised President Gorbachev's dreams about a common European home.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Kimmo.

Now in the debate I call Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA from Ukraine.

Mariia, you have the floor.


Ukraine, EPP/CD


Dear President,

Thank you very much.

I would like to start my speech with a very important citation.

"A true soldier does not fight for something in front of him or her which he or she fears; he or she fights for something behind him or her which he or she loves".

And colleagues,

As a representative of the Ukrainian delegation, I would love to tell you that it's not the infrastructure we're fighting for daily; it's not for the buildings; it's not for the roads: it's our heritage, our genetic code, which is freedom, our people and our history.

This is a red line we are approaching daily while hearing the sirens, while receiving text messages from the wounded and dead soldiers, men and women, who are as of now standing in Bakhmut, Soledar, and many hotspots of this bleeding, but still beating, war.

I want to let you know that we will be having more and more resolutions approaching on deported Ukrainians which Mr Paulo PISCO will be working on.

The numbers are growing. We don't know where our citizens exactly are, but we have one goal, as President Zelenskyy always says - to bring everyone back home.

I want to congratulate everyone who already did so and came to Ukraine, but I want to pay tribute to the brilliant work of the rapporteur of the committee and everyone who visited us, not only in the summer but through all this time.

You are continuing to be the soldiers I was referring to in the very beginning of my speech, the soldiers of the diplomatic battle which is continuing today.


This file would have never happened. We would have never been talking about a new mechanism - the special tribunal for the repeated crime of aggression - if not for a small but very, very important amendment we passed with you back in March in the report, when we excluded Russia because they did not fulfil even one adequate position of what we all believe in in this house.

The Council of Europe was created to prevent wars, to prevent genocides, to prevent the erasure of nations.

But as of now, we - as the true soldiers of diplomacy - have to fight and create new mechanisms to respond to this brutal war, which could have overlapped further to Europe, if not for the resistance within Ukraine.


Today many cities of Ukraine were hit again. There are dead and wounded people.

I want to give you a huge thanks for everything you're doing in your national parliaments, in your homes, in your constituencies.

Please continue to stand with Ukraine, because we stand for you every second back home.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA.

The last speaker in this debate will be Mr Bertrand BOUYX from France.

Mr Bertrand BOUYX

France, ALDE


Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I would like to congratulate our rapporteur, as has been said, on the excellence of his report and all the work done by the Committee.

Human rights violations are a daily occurrence in Ukraine. They are committed by regular members of the Russian armed forces, but also by private militias, in particular the Wagner militia, whose sinister exploits are talked about in the country but also elsewhere. The Russian Federation has been guilty of atrocities whose horror shocks our conscience and our conception of human life and dignity.

These abuses of all kinds – as I have already stated here, war crimes and even crimes against humanity – obviously call for condemnation by international justice.

The French delegation that I chair had the honour of receiving the Ukrainian delegation led by Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA at the National Assembly and also at the Senate to discuss the constitution of a crime of aggression that would include the various crimes that Ukraine has had to endure since 24 February 2022.

I want to repeat here what we collectively said to our Ukrainian colleagues. This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the creation of a special international criminal court, responsible punishing the various abuses committed by the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory.

We unreservedly support the principle of judging those responsible for these crimes, regardless of the means chosen to achieve this. Indeed, the fact that neither Russia nor Ukraine is a party to the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, it will be necessary to explore ways and means for the creation of an ad hoc tribunal.

On 30 November, the French National Assembly supported this position by voting for a resolution calling on, and I quote: "the European Union and its member states to continue to support without restriction the International Criminal Court in its work of investigating any possible war crimes or crimes against humanity committed on Ukrainian territory since the beginning of the aggression, so that those guilty of such crimes can be judged by the ICC or, if necessary, by an ad hoc tribunal after the conflict".

The French government has already decided to deploy investigators from the French national gendarmerie to the Izioum region – and I salute the commitment of the gendarmerie. Obviously, we must continue to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity on the ground. I agree with my colleague Mr André GATTOLIN that our Commissioner for Human Rights should assume this role.

It is at the price of justice for the victims and punishment for the perpetrators that our continent will find peace, a lasting peace.

France and its parliament are ready to support any step in this direction.

I thank you for your support.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Bertrand.

I now have to interrupt the list of speakers. But bear in mind that the speeches of members on the speakers list – and there are still a lot of them – who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the table office for publication in our official report.

I remind colleagues that the type written texts must be submitted, electronically if possible, no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

I now call Mr Damien COTTIER, the rapporteur, to reply.

You have 3 minutes.


Switzerland, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Mr President.

I am delighted that the debate is ending with this strong statement by the Chairman of the French delegation, which echoes statements by many countries and institutions: two days ago here the German Foreign Minister, a few days ago the Dutch Government, not so long ago the President of the European Commission and many countries and governments who are pleading for the creation of this international tribunal for the crime of aggression, which our Assembly had already strongly, unanimously, supported during its April debate.

Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO, you have made us hear these sirens; the delegation of 10 members of this Assembly who went to Kyiv in June last year experienced this: in the middle of discussions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the sirens sounded and we had to move. I come from Switzerland, a country that has been at peace for 175 years: it is obviously terribly disturbing to hear that.

In talking with the population, in talking with you, the members of the Ukrainian delegation, we understood how much this has become your daily life, as you mentioned this morning. People are waking up to this and I heard yesterday on the radio that the first word a little boy said yesterday was "bomb" instead of "daddy" or "mummy". Children are waking up to that.

I was struck, as we were all struck in the delegation, by how resilient the Ukrainian people are and how much they want to live normally, despite these bombs that fall every day and despite these alarms that ring constantly. We must obviously support you in this because it is a fight for freedom.

You mentioned the military aspects and, as Sir Edward LEIGH said earlier, this is not the subject of discussions in this chamber, it is not the subject of the Council of Europe. Of course, these discussions must take place, but in other places. We understand the intention you mention because quite simply, if Ukraine stops the war, there is no more Ukraine; whereas if Russia stops the war, there is no more war. This is obviously what we call on Russia to do. But here, we must work, as Mrs. Mariia MEZENTSEVA and others have pointed out, on the aspect of justice to prepare for peace, to rebuild this peace.

There are these three aspects, these three pillars, and I thank all the groups for supporting them: the compensation mechanism; the issue of supporting the authorities in place – and in particular the ICC and the Ukrainian judicial authorities – to investigate and render justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly the crime of genocide; and then the creation of this tribunal for the crime of aggression which must not, Mr George KATROUGALOS, weaken the ICC, which must on the contrary work closely with it, which must strengthen it but which is necessary as a complement for the reasons we have mentioned, because the ICC does not have this mandate. And of course, countries must sign and ratify the Rome Statute and the Kampala Amendments, but this must be done in addition to the creation of this international tribunal.

Thank you to all the political groups for supporting the proposals in this report. As Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR said, it is a roadmap to justice and I would like to quote simply Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK, whom I thank again for her poignant testimony, to conclude: "we must do it because it is the right thing to do".

Let's vote now and may this message carry all the way to Reykjavik to the Summit of Heads of State and Government.

I thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Merci à vous Monsieur le rapporteur. (Thank you, rapporteur in French).

Does the Vice Chairperson of the committee, Mr Davor Ivo STIER, wish to speak? You have 3 minutes.


Mr Davor Ivo STIER

Croatia, EPP/CD, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights


Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Dear colleagues,

Dear Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK,

Let me start by thanking the rapporteur for his work, as well as the Secretariat for the dedication.

This report is based on a motion for a resolution tabled on 17 March 2022, the day after the expulsion of the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe.

The Committee on Legal Affairs has examined already some of the aspects covered by this report in an urgent debate report on the Russian Federation's aggression: ensuring accountability for the serious violations of international humanitarian law and other international crimes, which was prepared by Mr Aleksander POCIEJ as rapporteur in April 2022.

At that time, the Assembly unanimously called for the establishment of a special tribunal on the crime of aggression committed against Ukraine. Let's not forget, this Assembly was the first international body to do so.

The current report prepared by our Chairman, Mr Damien COTTIER, develops that proposal in more detail and recommends concrete action to member states, the Council of Europe and other international actors. It also deals with two other key aspects of the accountability for the violations of international law. One is the accountability for other international crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The second one is the compensation for all the damage and loss resulting from the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

After three hearings with experts on the three different topics, the Committee asked the Bureau to fast track the report and examine it under the urgent debate procedure. We considered that the Assembly should send a strong and unified message to our heads of state and government meeting in Reykjavik in May.

This week we heard from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe that the organisation was ready to play its part and contribute to ensure accountability. And that the aggression against Ukraine will be at the centre of the Summit.

Dear colleagues,

With this resolution, supported unanimously by our Committee on Tuesday, the Assembly will send a clear message to the world: the serious violations of international law committed by Russia and its leaders against one of our member states will not go unpunished.

Peace can only be achieved through justice and accountability.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

We need a new Nuremberg Tribunal. History is repeating itself in the evils perpetrated by Russia in the Ukraine just as Russia and others were the victims of evil perpetrated by the National Socialists of Germany 75 years ago.

So let us repeat that history in the way we try the new perpetrators of evil. The Nuremberg trials did not come about by international consensus.

No. Just four countries unilaterally declared that we would hold an international trial, the United Kingdom, the United States, France and the USSR.

Indeed, one country made a very strong case for Germany to be tried for the new crime of waging aggressive war. That country was the USSR – and that concept of waging aggressive war was accepted by France, USA and the UK and became the central thrust of the Nuremberg trials.

This excellent report before us today also calls for a special tribunal to try Russia for the crime of Aggression.

If it was the main demand of the Soviet Union in 1945, then Putin, cannot complain if we use it now against Russia.

The IMT focused on the crime of aggression—plotting and waging aggressive war, which the Tribunal declared to be "the supreme international crime" because "it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole", including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Unless the leading countries in Europe and the United States take action to set up this new tribunal then it will not happen. We can forget about the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, since they will never do it.

Nuremberg did all the homework for us. The four countries adopted all the legal rules procedures in the Nuremberg Charter and we simply need to tweak these to make it relevant 75 years later.

However, the key item is our courage and political will to do it.

But first of all, this is all just fantasy if Russia is not defeated. Ukraine must win the war or we will never get a single Russian officer or soldier to any trial. Victory comes before legal action

It seems that Germany has now moved from it appalling hypocritical position and agree to give Ukraine some Leopard tanks. Not nearly enough and I call on all countries of this organisation to give the Ukraine every tank, artillery piece and missile they can manage to help Ukraine win.

Give your weapons to Ukraine and we and NATO will defend you.

Finally let us send the same message to Putin and his generals which the UK, USA and Soviet Union issued to the Nazi leadership on 1st November 1943, “We give you full warning that we will pursue you to the uttermost ends of the earth in order that justice be done.” That should be our intent. That should be our policy.


Ireland, UEL


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Mr. President, dear colleagues,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the council for the opportunity to speak on this important debate.

There is no doubt that the invasion and illegal war by the Russian Federation is totally wrong and should be opposed on all sides. There is a need that all forms of aggression need to be highlighted and brought to justice.

The people of Ukraine did not ask for or pursue this war.

While there is no mechanism to prosecute Russians for the war because they have not recognised the International Criminal Court it is important to mark our opposition to the way it is being conducted.

Although I believe there is no proper way to conduct any war.

One of the most offensive of crimes is the committing of sexual crimes and rape by the invasion force. While this may be directed it is carried out by individuals in the field and I think that every person is responsible for their own acts. While some defence can be made perhaps in relation to the bombing of civilian areas or the targeting that is used they can be indicated as coming down to soldiers but sex crimes are specific acts that are attributable to individuals.

Sometimes I am concerned by the language that is used in discussing some of these events. I don’t remember the same language being used when the US and its allies where attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, is that probably because they were the same countries that are now condemning Russia?

In my mind that lessens the credibility of the complaints. All the talk of Russia using the UN Security Council to block motions and accountability at the UN is the same tactics that have been used by the US, UK and France over the years. Indeed, they have blocked the Security council taking action at least 80% of the time since the 1970’s.

That is not to say that the Russians are right but they are no worse than the rest, which is a sad thing to say.

It is sad to say that we are aligning and quoting favourably that bastion of peace and the rights of man, NATO who clearly look after everyone’s interests provided that they are white, European or North American.

We need the council of Europe I believe to try and sue for a peaceful solution to the war. That needs to be a solution that the people of Ukraine can live with there is no doubt about that. But I believe that the US and Russia are the only two countries that are benefitting from the war along with oil producing gulf states as things stand.

Unfortunately, the Ukrainian people in my view are being sacrificed on the alter of a cold war between NATO and Russia.

What that solution is I’m not sure but if we don’t look for one it will never be found. The council of Europe I believe is the only organisation that can credibly negotiate for peace.

That would be the greatest contribution that we can make as a body.


Ukraine, EC/DA


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in French.


Latvia, EPP/CD


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Thank you, Mr. President, dear colleagues,

This is a time when the values, principles and standards of the Council of Europe are under attack and must be protected more than ever. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine constitutes most serious threat to international peace and security Russia ’s aggression is an attack on the fundamental principles underlying the rules based international order that emerged after the horrors of the Second World War, namely, the principles of the prohibition of the use of force and the sovereign equality of all states.

Our response to Russia therefore must ensure accountability which is essential for maintaining our credibility as defenders of rules based international order. Our response must prevent any evil illusion of impunity. We must leave no doubt that such a behavior of the aggressor State will not be tolerated.

Dear colleagues,

Ukraine, and all the States supporting Ukraine, have engaged all relevant international law mechanisms designed for peaceful settlement of disputes, notably International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights. I see the engagement of these mechanisms as a reaffirmation of their relevance and effectiveness. At the same time, we must acknowledge that none of existing mechanisms can exercise the jurisdiction over the crime of aggression It is of paramount importance that the full spectrum of accountability is covered. Therefore, I would like to highlight once again the urgent need for establishment of a special INTERNATIONAL tribunal for the crime of aggression to complement the existing mechanisms and to ensure comprehensive accountability.

Ladies and gentlemen!

Meaningful steps have already been taken by a range of actors to document international crimes and human rights abuses perpetrated by Russia. Evidence collected indicates that crimes committed by Russian troops include torture, summary execution, abductions of civilians, filtration camps, deportation, illegal adoption of children or forcible transfer to Russian Federation, and gender-based violence, such as rape and sexual violence.

The restoration of a long lasting and just peace in Ukraine requires unified action to ensure that those responsible for international crimes are held accountable. This is a precondition to tackle the impunity, which, if unaddressed, can trigger wars and violent crises. One principle is crystal clear the Council of Europe along with other relevant stakeholders must support Ukraine as long as necessary, until Ukraine wins and the justice is restored. Let me conclude by thanking Mr. Damien Cottier and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights for drafting and presenting this resolution of utmost importance. Thank you


Ukraine, EPP/CD


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear Chairman!Dear Mr Rapporteur!

Dear Colleagues!

Today, Russia again hit Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Sumy, Odesa and other Ukrainian cities with missiles. At night, from the waters of the Sea of Azov, Russia launched 24 Shahed drones. Russian military planes take off from the territory of Belarus.

But this is not the first time.

Chechnya. Moldova. Georgia. Syria. Now Ukraine. The methods of war are the same. But so far neither Russia nor its leaders have been brought to justice. It's time to change that. Don't bury your head in the sand if someone still has similar thoughts.

Do not think that it does not affect you and will never affect you, but act. Boldly, like never before. I am sure that after the Second World War, there were also those who doubted the need to convict war criminals. But there were also those who boldly went forward, were not afraid of anything and can now look their children and grandchildren in the eyes.

Thank you to all the countries that provide Ukraine with any assistance, especially for anti-missile systems and military equipment that help liberate the territories of the sovereign state. Separately - for Leopards!

I call on the Assembly to support the creation of an international compensation mechanism for damages caused by Russia to Ukraine.

I call on the leaders of the countries who will gather at the summit in May in Reykjavik to support the creation of a special tribunal to condemn and bring to strict responsibility Russian war criminals, murderers of children, rapists, organizers of genocide and bombings of the civilian population.

We must harshly and decisively punish the Russian war criminals, the chief Nazi of the world Putin and his assistant Lukashenka. Putin commits crimes against humanity because he believes he can do it. And we, the civilized world, can stop this evil!

And then, with a clear conscience, in peace and quiet, next to family and friends, enjoy the results of the fulfilled duty.

May the Free World prosper!

Long live Democracy!

Slava Ukraini!

Mr Mogens JENSEN

Denmark, SOC


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Mr. President, dear colleagues,

First of all, many thanks to Mr. Cottier for a very precise text that sends an unequivocal and clear signal, that the acts of aggression committed by the Russian Federation against Ukraine without doubt meets the definition of the crime of aggression under international law.

And therefore the Russian political and military leaders responsible must be identified and prosecuted.

To do so it is needed that we call on our member States and observer States to set up a special international criminal tribunal for such crime, which should be supported by as many States and international organisations as possible.

We in the assembly should urge - and this is very important - that The Council of Europe Heads of State and Government, at the 4th Summit in Reykjavik in May 2023, give their political support to the creation of such a tribunal.

We also have, in the strongest possible way, to condemn the violations of international humanitarian law committed by Russian forces or affiliated armed groups in Ukraine.

Many of these violations can be qualified as war crimes or crimes against humanity as well as mounting evidence show that, the official Russian rhetoric to justify the aggression, carries characteristics of public incitement to genocide.

It is important that our Member States support the current investigation launched by the ICC Prosecutor into the situation in Ukraine, which covers allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. At the same time member states should also assist Ukraine in their effort to investigate such crimes, by helping with resources and expertise.

Finally I fully support the proposal of setting up an international compensation mechanism that can secure full compensation for the damage caused by Russia to Ukraine and its citizens. And here The Council of Europe could play a leading role in setting up and managing this mechanism.

I strongly recommend all in the assembly to support this important report and resolution.

Thank you!


France, EPP/CD


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in French.

Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ALDE


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Every Ukrainian wakes up every day with gratitude for being alive. We are clearly aware that our lives and the lives of our families can be destroyed in an instant. Unfortunately, this is the reality.

On a holiday afternoon, January 14, when families with their children were resting at home, a Russian rocket targeted the residential building in the city of Dnipro killing at least 46 people and injuring another 80. 11 people have not yet been identified, another 11 remain missing.

Such terrible tragedies, gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law, including the forced deportations, sexual violence committed by the Russian army, have become commonplace for Ukraine.

Let me also stress that on the territory of the occupied Crimea, the problem of human rights violations is extremely acute. The occupying authorities have been conducting forced mobilization, which primarily concerns the indigenous population of the peninsula. In addition, Russia persecutes the leaders and activists of the Ukrainian community of Crimea for any expression of solidarity with mainland Ukraine. They hold illegal trials and sentence them to long years of imprisonment.

This is genocide - the desire to physically destroy Ukrainians, in particular, representatives of the Crimean Tatar people.

All this requires a decisive reaction of the international community, as the impunity of the Russian leadership for the crimes committed during the past 9 years is one of the most important factors that led to a new wave of Russian aggression.

Bringing Russian officials to full criminal responsibility in an international judicial institution is imperative for a guarantee of peace and international security at the end of the war.

To this end, we must continue to take practical steps to create a special tribunal to punish those guilty of the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Ukraine hopes that the international community's support for this idea will reach a new level very soon.

From a legal point of view, it is important that the establishment of the tribunal does not interfere with the work of the International Criminal Court. On the contrary, the tribunal will complement the work of the ICC, which since the beginning of the full-scale invasion has also been carrying out extremely important work in investigating Russian crimes, including human rights violations.

In this regard, we must do our best to ensure that all human rights violations are properly documented and qualified in accordance to law. In the conditions of war, this is a big challenge to which we must respond. I call on the member states to mobilize all the necessary material and human resources for this.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the issue of compensation. Member states should respond more decisively to calls from Ukraine regarding the need to create a compensation mechanism.

We are extremely grateful to a number of partner states for their willingness to help Ukraine in its post-war reconstruction, but at the same time it is clear that this must be done primarily at the expense of the aggressor state. We have to keep working on it.

With joint efforts, I am convinced that very soon peace will come to the European continent, and those guilty of brutal violations of human rights will be punished.

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear Mr. Rapporteur, Dear colleagues,

This resolution comes very timely as there is repeated ongoing missile attack in Ukraine. It is a logical step towards ensuring accountability and justice in this brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. This resolution elaborates Ukraine’s recent efforts to punish for crime of crimes – aggression – that would target Russia’s leadership responsible for the very start of the war.

The Special Tribunal shall be established on the basis of a multilateral treaty between States (which will be open to accession and to making endorsements) or on the basis of agreement with international organization, in particular the UN. The choice of the model clearly depends on your support. In my opinion, preference might go towards clearly international tribunal with the global support. This would be more attractive and secure option, compared to hybrid model.

International status of the Tribunal would guarantee its authority. That means we create the Tribunal on the basis of international law and we have a wide practical support to bring the mechanism into life.

I also want to remind that the ICC cannot investigate and prosecute individuals for the crime of aggression against Ukraine unless both states ratify the Rome Statute and the Kampala Amendments on the crime of aggression. But even Ukraine does, Russia would never do this.

Or the act of aggression is established in a UN Security Council resolution and the Security Council refers the situation to the ICC.

Let me reiterate that General Prosecutor of Ukraine is working closely with the International Criminal Court and we observe the unprecedented involvement of other countries in the investigation of crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine. We are confident that one day we will bring to justice all those involved in the committing international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.

It is also important to remind that temporal coverage of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction should go as far as February 2014 when the aggression started. It is important it is reflected in the urgent resolution on Legal and human rights aspects of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.

While we design and gather support for the particular system of accountability for the crime of aggression against Ukraine, we need to launch a comprehensive international compensation mechanism, including a register of the damage caused by the Russian aggression.

We began gathering the proper coalition engaging our partners and in upcoming months it will crystalize. By the Reykjavik Summit we expect the practical outputs to emerge – coalition more clearly shaped, contours of the model polished. We count on you and support of your governments. Punishing the crime of aggression is the way to avoid impunity, injustice and authoritarian darkness. It is in our hands to reverse an unfortunate trend and resurrect international law. Slava Ukraini!



Sweden, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Mr President,

We have, in this important debate, heard many excellent statements, including that of our Rapporteur Mr Cottier, on the horrible, almost indescribable war crimes perpetrated by Russian forces against an innocent and peace-loving population, the Ukrainians.

Mass executions and torture of civilians and captured soldiers alike; millions of Ukrainians displaced , often abroad; forced deportations to Russia, including of children separated from their parents; the levelling to dust of entire cities and infrastructure necessary for survival. Hospitals, kindergartens, apartment buildings with people asleep inside… you name it!

And why? Well, only in order to fulfil the lunatic fantasies of the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin - a dream to restore a Russian, Soviet-style Empire, suppose predestined to lord it over any country near and far!

How could we get to this horrific situation, when we recall how in this very Council of Europe, in this Assembly, we had Russia and Ukraine sitting side by side for over three decades - with both countries being signatories to our statutes, signatories to our Human Rights Convention and to our many texts adopted for the good of our continent and our peoples.

We tried to build a new Europe of peace and liberty. Now years of threats and tension lie ahead.

Again, the guilt for this whole catastrophe lies squarely with Mr Putin and his close circle. And we must, in our Chamber, in our national parliaments and in international bodies, judicially go over every crime that has been or will be committed by the Russian political leadership, by its military, or by barbaric foreign mercenaries recruited for their particular cruelty.

Perhaps this will be in the form of an international tribunal set up specially for this purpose, as called for in the Resolution we adopted last Tuesday on “Conflict-related sexual violence“.

In conclusion, Mr President, my statement may come across as overly gloomy, but I am convinced that liberty and justice will prevail in the end. This conviction must lie at the heart of all our efforts, in the difficult times to come.

Thank you, Mr President.


Czech Republic, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear members of the Parliamentary Assembly,

We have gathered here on the eve of the first anniversary splashed with blood, pain and grief. What Russian forces committed in Ukraine since the 24th of February is difficult to articulate. Words cannot do it proper justice. But justice is what we need. Such a blatant transgression of international law cannot go unpunished. If it does, the already fragile system of international institutions, part of which sits in this very building, will suffer a fatal wound.

To avoid this bleak scenario, we must strive to create an ad hoc tribunal. I would like to call your attention to some of what my country has done up till now in this regard. The steps are in line with the rapporteur’s report for which I would like to reiterate my thanks to Mr Damien Coltier.

The Czech Republic was among the first to openly support the idea of the tribunal – the one specifically tasked with investigating the crime of aggression against Ukraine. As we speak, my capital Prague is hosting the first meeting of the so-called “Core Group of States” to make the idea a reality. I would encourage all who can to join the initiative because numbers are what we need to tip the scales in favour of justice.

Next, it is clear we have some distance to cover here but we cannot cover it in silence. Therefore, the Czech Republic has voiced its firm support for the International Criminal Court and seconded an expert to the Office of the Prosecutor. While the limited jurisdiction of the ICC underlines the very need for the special tribunal, it has been working within the constraints to prosecute whatever crimes it can in Ukraine. In this context, I kindly but strongly urge our Ukrainian colleagues to sign Rome Status of the ICC, enabling it to deliver justice where it can.

Equally, it is crucial that prosecutors at the national level gather evidence, investigate, and present their cases in their respective jurisdictions. While that can hardly force perpetrators to pay the proper price across borders, it sustains the issue in public discourse and, more importantly, amongst refugees pondering whether and where to come forward. The collected evidence will serve not only as a tool of but as a further impetus for the creation of the Ad Hoc tribunal. The Czech Republic expressed strong support for these ongoing initiatives, which was especially important during its presidency of the Council of the EU.

This is then what we must do together and as one. To strongly demand the creation of the Ad hoc tribunal, tangibly support ICC and work diligently at the national level for justice in Ukraine. Finally, we need to establish an international compensation mechanism, including an international register of damage. Such initiative would help not only to punish perpetrators but support the reconstruction and funnel the resources to where they’re needed. I sincerely hope that the forthcoming summit in Reykjavik will deliver on that.

In the meantime, let’s fight for justice. Make no mistake, Ukraine’s future depends on it as does the future of this organization. Let’s fight and win.

Ms Mireille CLAPOT

France, ALDE


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in French.


Ukraine, ALDE


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear Mr President, dear Ms Rapporteur, ladies and gentlemen,

Since the beginning of the illegal invasion in 2014, Russia has been committing numerous crimes on the territory of Ukraine. The largest tragedy in Europe, the biggest humanitarian catastrophe since World War II has unfolded before our eyes since 2022. Bomb shelling, levelling the large territories with the ground, severe distractions, hundreds of killed, thousands are kidnapped or captivated, millions lost their homes and displaced.

The Assembly has already adopted a number of texts on the different political and legal aspects of Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. Russian federation must be taken to a responsibility as a world criminal for this global humanitarian crisis and genocide. Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure grossly violate international humanitarian law.

Recently the whole world witnessed a terrible war crime in Dnipro. And today I want to pay tribute to the victims, to children and young people whose beautiful lives were brutally interrupted by the Russian missile that hit a peaceful residential house on Saturday holiday 14th January in Dnipro.

So I want to tell you the story of one young lady, smart student, beautiful dancer, promising leader, volunteer and talented environmentalist, 15-year old Mariia Lebid, she was killed by that Russian missile in Dnipro. Mariia was a 9th grade student in School 66, a newly elected President of the School Pupils’ Republic called The Wings. She did have her wings and inspired others with her big and beautiful ideas. A s a School President she wanted students to volunteer and help animals. But the wars, military aggressions take this chance from us, they kill not only nature, but our chance for a better future as a planet. Russia brutally kills young bright minds, a new generation of extraordinary activists, outstanding humans.

The Assembly should once again condemn the numerous war crimes, crimes against humanity, against nature, other atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law committed by Russian forces or their allies, affiliated terroristic armed groups in Ukraine, Russia must be taken to the responsibility - politically, legally, and financially.

We ask all Member States authorities to assist the Ukrainian authorities in our efforts to investigate such crimes, by providing resources and expertise. Altogether in European and global solidarity we have to make Russian federation fully compensate for the damage caused to Ukraine, our citizens, our land and our environment. So the international mechanism for reparation and international register of damage is highly needed.

In memory of all Ukrainian children killed by this unjust and unjustified war and as a symbol of victory for Ukraine and our global solidarity. Let’s pull out the weeds of terrorism together and let the rule of law and Democracy bloom.

Thank you very much!

Mr Harald WEYEL

Germany, EC/DA


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in German.

Vote: Legal and human rights aspects of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Davor Ivo STIER.

The debate is closed.

Now the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft resolution which you can find in Document 15689 to which seven amendments have been tabled. We will also consider three sub-amendments.

I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

I understand that the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 5 and 6 to the draft resolution which were unanimously approved by the Committee should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

Is that so Mr Davor Ivo STIER?

Mr Davor Ivo STIER

Croatia, EPP/CD, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights


Yes. That is correct.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Does anybody object?

I don't see so.

That means that Amendments 5 and 6 to the draft resolution have been agreed.


I also understand that the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 1, 2 and 3 to the draft resolution, which were rejected by the Committee with a two-thirds majority, be declared as rejected by the Assembly.

Is that so, Mr Davor Ivo STIER?

Mr Davor Ivo STIER

Croatia, EPP/CD, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights


It's correct.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Is there any objection?

I do not see.

So, as there is no objection, I declare Amendment 1, 2, and 3 to the draft resolution are rejected.

I now call Ms Selin SAYEK BÖKE to support Amendment 7.

Selin, you have 30 seconds.

I do not see her here.

Is there anybody else who wants to move Amendment 7.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU perhaps? Amendment 7? Would you move it formally perhaps?

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD


I can move it, but I do not have the text in front of me.

But I have moved it, so you can move to it.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The amendment is moved formally, so we can take it into account.

Does anybody wish...? No?

I have been informed that Mr Damien COTTIER, the rapporteur, wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment as follows: replace the word "procedures" with "all the relevant procedures", and delete all the text in the parentheses.

The amendment would then read as follows: "The Assembly also calls on the Ukrainian authorities to put particular emphasis on activating all the relevant procedures to gather information on, and ensure the safe return of, forcefully transferred Ukrainian children from the Russian Federation and Russian occupied territories."

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules.

However, if ten or more members object the oral sub-amendment being debated...

I do not see any objections.

Then, I ask Mr Damien COTTIER to support his oral sub-amendment.


Switzerland, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Mr President.

First of all, earlier, forgive me for forgetting in the emotion of the moment, I should also have thanked the Secretariat, in particular Mr Guillem CANO PALOMARES, for the excellent support work that was given to the Committee and to the Rapporteur. It is really a privilege to work in such conditions.

Concerning this sub-amendment, it is simply a matter of clarifying things, because some of the institutions that are mentioned are imprecise and it is better to talk about all the necessary procedures so as to be more precise in the text.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Merci, Mr Damien COTTIER. ("Thank you, Damien" in French).

Does anybody with to speak against the oral sub-amendment? I do not see any objections.

What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment, Ms Ingjerd SCHOU?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

The Committee is obviously in favour, Mister STIER. I now will put the oral sub-Amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

And the oral sub-Amendment is carried.

We will now consider the main Amendment as amended.

Does anybody wish to speak against the Amendment as amended?

I do not see any.

The Committee is obviously in favour, Mister STIER.

I now shall put Amendment 7 as amended to the vote.

And the vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

The amendment is carried.

Which page?

We now move to Amendment 4, an oral sub-Amendment to it.

I call Ms Lesia VASYLENKO to support Amendment 4.

You have 30 seconds.


Ukraine, ALDE


Thank you, Chair.

This amendment regards the recommendations of the Assembly to unblock the United Nations and the Security Council, which today is paralysed by the veto power of the Russian Federation and essentially, what we are saying is that we want the UN to return to a rule-based society and the International Court of Justice to give its opinion of jurists on the matter. So I ask you to support this amendment. 

Thank you. 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Lesia VASYLENKO.

I have been informed that Mr Damien COTTIER, rapporteur, wishes to propose two oral sub-amendments which have to be dealt with separately.

We will now consider oral sub-Amendment 1 to Amendment 4.

Your first oral sub-amendment would delete the second sentence of Amendment 4.

In my opinion, this oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, if ten or more members do object to it being debated... I do not see.

So then I call on Mr Damien COTTIER to support sub-Amendment 1 to Amendment 4.


Switzerland, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Mr President.

The observation made in this amendment of the serious problem posed by the blockage in the United Nations Security Council is correct.

Nevertheless, we believe that it is not the Council of Europe's role to propose to another international organisation how to reform itself and that the observation and the call to make a change are sufficient in the rest of the text. Therefore, it would be better to delete this sentence that speaks about another international organisation than ours.

Our competences, in the end, are to deal with the functioning of our Organisation, possibly an appeal to the States, but not to modify another international organisation like the United Nations.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Does anyone wish to speak against the oral sub-amendment? I do not see anyone.

Well, the committee is obviously in favour, Mr Davor Ivo STIER, of the oral sub-amendment.

So I will now put it to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

And the oral sub-amendment is carried.

We now will consider the oral sub-amendment 2 to Amendment 2.

I have been informed that Mr Damien COTTIER wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment as follows: leave out in the last sentence from “as well” to “Estonia and Poland”.

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules.

However, if 10 or more members object, the oral sub-amendment will be debated. 

That is not the case. 

Then I call Mr Damien COTTIER to support his oral sub-amendment 2.


Switzerland, ALDE, Rapporteur


Mr President,

There is very little legal discussion of this issue. The succession of the USSR by Russia has been accepted by the international community for some thirty years and therefore the chances of success of such a request are extremely low. It seems to us that it would weaken the resolution of the Assembly to introduce such a request: this is why we propose to stick to what the Assembly has already decided with the opinion of the International Court of Justice, but not to add this dimension of the succession of states.

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, rapporteur.

Does anybody want to speak against this oral sub-amendment?

I do not see.

What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment.



Ukraine, ALDE


Thank you.

I agree with the sub-amendment, as we discussed in the Committee.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


In favour?

Thank you very much.

The Committee is obviously mysteriously in favour of the sub-amendment.

I will now put oral sub-Amendment 2 to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

The oral sub-amendment is carried.

We will now consider the main amendment as amended.

Does anybody wish to speak against the main amendment as amended. I do not see...

The committee, Mr Davor Ivo STIER, is obviously in favour.

I now shall put Amendment 4 as amended to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

Amendment 4 is carried.

We now will proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 15689 as amended; a simple majority is required.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

The resolution has been adopted unanimously.


Thank you very much.

And also thank you very much Ms Oleksandra MATVIICHUK for participating, not only addressing our Assembly, but also participating in the debate.

Congratulations Mr Rapporteur.

We will wait a few moments and then we are going to listen to the address of the Prime Minister of Iceland, chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

May I now ask you to take your seats.

Okay, one picture - and then we are going to proceed with our agenda.

So, again, please take your seats colleagues.

On Tuesday we had a former member of our Assembly addressing our hemicycle in their new capacity as Foreign Affairs Minister of Germany.

Now we will listen to another form of colleague of ours addressing us now in her new capacity – actual capacity – I cannot say new – as Prime Minister of Iceland, Ms Katrín JAKOBSDÓTTIR. We most welcome Ms Katrín JAKOBSDÓTTIR.

The prime minister's address will include the communication from the Committee of Ministers of the Assembly as Iceland is chairing our Committee of Ministers therefore I said to the Prime Minister that for us she is now the most important politician in all of Europe.

Madam Prime Minister,

You are now chairing the presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in the most critical, perhaps existential, time in history.

Through its unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, the Russian Federation continues to violate international law with its military actions committing atrocities against Ukrainians and undermining European and global security and stability.

Today it is clear that the work of the Council of Europe, based on the promotion and the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, is perhaps more vital than ever. This crisis has brought the founding principle of the Council of Europe into sharp focus. The pursuit of peace can only be achieved through justice and international cooperation.

That is why we are looking forward to the 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government which will take place on 16 and 17 May in Reykjavik. A summit that the Assembly has been calling for and which will renew and reinforce the mandate of the Council of Europe in the face of these new challenges.

I can tell the Assembly that I will also convene a meeting of the Standing Committee the day before the summit, also in Reykjavik, so that also the parliamentary dimension will be represented in the great capital of Iceland.

The effort of each and every country is now needed to safeguard the multilateral system created more than 70 years ago to protect peace. It is important to acknowledge Iceland's solid commitment and contribution to face the destructive currents which threaten to unravel our European systems of cohesion and cooperation.

Therefore, Prime Minister of Iceland, dear Ms Katrín JAKOBSDÓTTIR, your presence here is highly appreciated by us all. It demonstrates the dedication of your great country to our Council's core values. And therefore we are really looking forward to your intervention and then followed by an exchange of views.

Please, Madam Prime Minister, can I invite you to take the floor.

Address: Ms Katrín JAKOBSDÓTTIR, Prime Minister of Iceland|The intervention by the Prime Minister will include the communication from the Committee of Ministers.


Prime Minister of Iceland


Thank you, Mr President for your kind words.

Secretary General, Secretary General of the Assembly, distinguished parliamentarians and distinguished ambassadors.


Prime Minister of Iceland


And now, a few words in French.

It is an honour to address you today on behalf of the Icelandic Presidency of the Council of Europe and in the run-up to the 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government in Reykjavik next May.

I had the pleasure of meeting some of you last November when the Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament, hosted the Standing Committee in Iceland. Before I became Prime Minister, as the President has already said, I was a member of this Assembly for a short time and had the opportunity to participate in your important work and to learn first hand the key role of the Parliamentary Assembly as a forum for democratic discussion in Europe and as a catalyst for new ideas and action.


Prime Minister of Iceland


I must say, dear friends, that this Assembly has shown vigour and resilience when responding to major crises in the past few years.

It was able to adapt its procedures, to continuing its work through the pandemic, stressing the need to balance social restrictions with human rights, and highlighting, among other things, the detrimental impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable groups.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this Assembly demonstrated its unity around the values upon which the Council of Europe was founded, by condemning Russia’s aggression and by recommending its expulsion from the Council of Europe. A very swift response.

Dear friends,

Iceland was the twelfth state to join the Council of Europe in 1950 — only six years after we became a republic. Our membership has played an important part in the advancement of human rights and the rule of law in Iceland.

Judgments by the European Court of Human Rights are fundamental to the organisation's core role to advance and protect fundamental rights. Full and unequivocal respect for and execution of the Court's judgments are therefore a shared responsibility of all member states.

The Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, and its system of legal conventions constantly remind us of our obligations and have made valuable suggestions for improvements in guaranteeing citizens’ rights.

As a forum for dialogue and cooperation, the Council of Europe has been instrumental in safeguarding, implementing, and promoting fundamental values and principles. This is no simple task, because democracy can be complicated, cumbersome and even messy, with demanding and lengthy debates.

Yet, it is precisely the need for time, the need for patience, that makes democratic governance effective.

Therein lies our strength: to express different opinions, to debate openly and freely, and to look for common solutions based on our core values and the interests of our citizens.

The democratic concept which lies at the core of the European Convention on Human Rights is an inclusive concept. It requires that the interests of all are taken into account, including the rights and interests of the weak and the vulnerable. This is what we must all continue fighting for.

Dear colleagues,

Iceland takes over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at a critical time.

Eleven months have passed since the launch of Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine. Tragedy and violence are not only confined to the battleground.

Russia’s systematic attacks on civilian infrastructure has caused much human suffering and hardship. Millions of innocent civilians have fled their homes. Horrendous reports of atrocities, sexual and gender-based violence, and other grave human rights violations have fuelled a sense of urgency we all feel – of ending this war and bringing our continent back to peace.

That was after all the founding ideal of the Council of Europe after the end of the Second World War. The furtherance of peace lies at the genesis of our common European project.

The Council of Europe has taken a firm stance against Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which is a clear violation of international law as embedded in the United Nations Charter, as well as that of the Statute of the Council of Europe. Victims of the war and displaced persons are also suffering violations of their rights and freedoms under the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as international humanitarian law.

Most member states, including Iceland, are part of the sanctions regime against Russia and have provided material support for Ukraine. The ultimate goal is a just peace, that respects international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Justice also requires a comprehensive system of accountability for human rights violations and international crimes, to avoid impunity and to prevent further violations. Iceland supports efforts to document crimes — committed by Russia in Ukraine — and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Given the make-up of the UN Security Council, major political hurdles stand in the way of establishing international tribunals — such as those created after the wars in the former Yugoslavia or the genocide in Rwanda — or involve the International Criminal Court without a Russian membership.

However, the rights of victims must be recognised and violations remedied as far as possible. I recall the landmark Opinion of the Parliamentary Assembly from 15 March, on the "consequences of the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine", where the Assembly made clear that it constituted "a crime against peace", an aggression under international law and moreover a serious breach of the Statute of the Council of Europe.

In order for us to be able to honour the rights and the fundamental human dignity of victims, some forms of retributive and restorative justice are needed to deal with wartime atrocities in Ukraine. And as experience shows, such mechanisms of accountability can have transformative effects.

This was, for example, the case when sexual violence and rape in armed conflict were defined as a war crime and a crime against humanity following the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and with the actions of various truth commissions set up in post-conflict states on the model of the South African example.

In my view, the Council of Europe should address the question of justice and accountability in its Summit declaration.

Dear colleagues,

War does not only undermine the principles of cooperation in the international system; it also threatens democracy, it violates human rights, and dismantles the rule of law.

We also see evidence of other types of threats to democratic values in Europe and around the world. In the United States — and more recently Brazil — we have seen attacks against the very institutions that have been put in place to safeguard democracy. The independence of the judiciary has been challenged in some European countries. We have witnessed a worrying backlash against gender equality and LGBTI rights. These are not isolated events, but a manifestation of a broader trend where democratic principles are questioned or rejected.

There is a tendency to think that democracies perish as a result of violent action, such as military coups or aggression. But in our time, they can also be undermined by other overt means or wither away in silence.

We have witnessed elected leaders coming to power through parliamentary means, who then engage in authoritarian power grabs aimed at eliminating democratic checks and balances. We have also seen non-democratic states, with no interest in the promotion of equality or human rights, emerging as major players on the international scene.

We can debate whether it matters more that democratic states are becoming fewer or less democratic. Yet, as I said, democratic rights can be suppressed or they can slip away — and for this reason, they have to be fought for, nurtured, and protected.

We need the multilateral system to weather the storms we currently face. If there is one lesson to be learned from the failure of the international response to fascism in the 1930s, it is that democracies must stay together to protect hard-won political rights and freedoms.

The priorities of the Icelandic Presidency of the Council of Europe reflect this commitment to fundamental values and to multilateral cooperation. We will also use this platform to champion the rights of women and girls, the environment, and children and youth.

The Presidency will focus on four main themes:


Iceland will have a strong focus on the Council’s core principles of human rights, democracy and rule of law. We must return to our fundamental principles and the framework that has kept us together. In a time of democratic decline and rising authoritarianism, the Council of Europe serves a critical function as a guardian of democracy.


The Icelandic Presidency will engage with critical issues regarding human rights, automation and the environment. The impact of new technologies needs to be addressed to ensure that they serve the people and strengthen democratic processes and human rights instead of undermining basic values.

We have to search for common answers to pressing questions about the use of AI: how the protection of human rights can be safeguarded, while realising the contribution of neural networks to social prosperity and well-being. We must deal with the detrimental effects of the climate crisis on human rights across the world.

The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment has been recognised by the United Nations General Assembly. Last October, this Assembly recommended that the right to a healthy environment be established through an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Committee of Ministers now has the task of figuring out how this right can be formalised in the Council of Europe convention system.

Even though this will take some time, we do not want to lose the momentum that this issue has gained in the past two years. In May, the Icelandic Presidency will organise an event on the margins of the meeting of the drafting committee on human rights and the environment of the Committee of Ministers, focusing on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable development.  

We will examine how states have incorporated the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment into their legislation and promote green public administration and other ecologically sound solutions. Responding to the climate crisis is our most urgent generational challenge. I think the Council of Europe has an very important part to play there.


We will put much emphasis on the rights of children and young people. Every child has the right to grow into adulthood in health, peace, and dignity, and it is imperative for all states to ensure these rights. Iceland will and has already been promoting child-centered policy-making through integrating services and protection systems for children. An early model of this approach is the Icelandic Barnahús — or Children’s House — a child-friendly, interdisciplinary, and multi-agency response centre for child sexual abuse. Its unique approach brings together all relevant services under one roof to avoid re-victimisation of children during the investigation and court proceedings, where the rights of the child are paramount.

Another priority will be the inclusion of young people in decision-making. We will organise consultative meetings with young people during our Presidency and we want to ensure that their voices are heard in the lead-up to the Reykjavik Summit.


Iceland is steadfast in its commitment to equality and the protection of the hard-earned rights of women and girls around the world.

While important gains have been made in the fight against gender-based violence over decades of activism, new forms of violence have emerged. During Iceland’s Presidency, we will continue to focus specifically on action against digital violence and on the role of men and boys in gender equality policies. As technology evolves — and our use of it changes — we see new representations of gender-based violence, primarily harming women and girls. We need to be alert to these forms of violence and how they impact victims in a way that can discourage civic participation, activism and involvement in politics, ultimately harming our democracies.

I would like to underline, specifically, the important role of the Istanbul Convention in preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention, which has been ratified by 37 Council of Europe member states, is the most comprehensive and far-reaching instrument of its kind—and its implementation has had a significant effect. I sincerely hope that more member states, and non-member states, will sign and ratify the Convention in the coming years.

Let me also stress that Iceland is firmly committed to promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTI individuals and to creating a safe, inclusive and enabling environment for the advancement of human rights and equality for all. We must continue to educate. We must continue to listen. And we must always speak up when we witness hate, prejudice and discrimination. We are all part of this effort and we cannot leave the fight for equality to the LGBTI community alone. An inclusive and equal society where every member is treated with respect and dignity is a goal that we must all subscribe to.

Dear friends,

To conclude, I see the upcoming Reykjavik Summit as an important opportunity for heads of state and government of the 46 member states to convene and “unite around our values” and to work towards strengthening the organisation to meet current and future challenges.

The aim of the Icelandic Presidency is to consult with all relevant stakeholders, including the Council of Europe bodies, international organisations, youth representatives and civil society.

We will do our utmost over the next few months, together with the member states, to ensure that the 4th Summit will be productive and fulfil the demands made of the Council.

The input of the Parliamentary Assembly, and its more than 300 parliamentarians, is crucial to the success of the Summit.

As mentioned in our timeline “Road to Reykjavík” the Icelandic Presidency prioritised consultations with the Assembly in preparing for the meeting. The most important input of the Assembly is the Recommendation to the Committee of Ministers, on the Reykjavík Summit, adopted on Tuesday. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the rapporteur, Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN, for her excellent work.

Our aim is to deliver a substantive summit declaration, focusing on the most pressing issues.

My wish is that the Reykjavik declaration reflects the following: a resolute re-commitment to our fundamental values and principles; very clear support for Ukraine where the issue of accountability is addressed; and meaningful decisions that guide our work in meeting urgent challenges, such as the climate crisis and rapid technological changes, which are having major effects on human rights.

Later this afternoon, we will have the opportunity to discuss the Summit in the Joint Committee of the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers. We will keep the Assembly informed of the progress in the coming months, notably in the Standing Committee in March and the April Plenary session.

The Council of Europe was born out of the tragedy of the Second World War, with the clear aim of uniting Europe and ensuring that its violent past would not become its future. During these times we are living through now, this mission has never been more important.

We look forward to working closely with all member states and statutory bodies of the organisation to promote the vision of a strong and effective Council of Europe, firmly committed to its core values of human rights, rule of law and democracy on our continent.

I believe that this institution, this body – the Council of Europe – is essential for the future of Europe, the future of Europe that we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in and live in.

Thank you very much for your attention.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Madam Prime Minister, for your address and you also have agreed that you would now be involved in an exchange of views.

But before starting, I use the fact that I am now presiding over this Assembly to introduce to you those who normally preside over me, the President of the Dutch Senate and the Secretary General of the Dutch Senate. We welcome you in our Assembly, gentleman, and you just listened to the address of, as I said, at this moment the most important politician for the Council, preparing the 4th Summit.

We now are going to listen, first, to the questions from the political groups. And first in the debate, I call Mr Frank SCHWABE from Germany. He speaks on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.



Germany, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Madam Prime Minister,

Thank you very much for the excellent preparation of the Summit in Reykjavik, and thank you very much for including our Parliamentary Assembly in the preparation of the Summit. We are happy – some of us – to join you and to come to questions.

To ask about the Summit, you mentioned that you want to bring this organisation back, you want to strengthen the core of this organisation.

What do you intend to do to make countries here fulfil the judgments of the Court, for instance in the case of Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş?

And second, for sure you are in the focus, as well as when you have this Chairmanship. And so, I ask you, you have an excellent record on human rights, but there is a question about refugees. I understand that you want to pass a law in Iceland to send refugees back, even to those countries that are not part of the UN refugee commitments. Why are you intending to do this?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Frank.

Madam Prime Minister?


Prime Minister of Iceland


First, thank you for your support in the preparation for the Summit, which is very meaningful for us.

First, considering the case of Kavala, we must continue to push that really the results of the Court will be followed. Our position is very clear on that, that the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are final and the execution of its judgments is fundamental to the proper functioning of Europe's most important instrument for human rights protection.

Now, when it comes to next steps in that issue, the Chair of the Committee of Ministers will consult with the liaison group, the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly on further steps that could be taken by the Committee should Mr Kavala not be released.

Concerning the case of refugees and Iceland. We live in Europe which has different rules and legislation. When we look at the rules of the Nordic countries I think that Iceland could be considered probably to have the most liberal framework, but obviously, and maybe because we have had more refugees now than ever – 5 000 in the last year of 2022 – there has been questions on whether for example refugees should be sent back to Greece.

And I don't know if you're referring to that in your question, but they have been sent back to Greece. And I know some other European countries do that, but not all of them. We have a new opinion coming from Germany, for example, considering that, so this is something that obviously will continue to be discussed in Iceland.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Prime Minister.

The next speaker is Mr Bernard FOURNIER from France, on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.


France, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mr President.

Madam Prime Minister,

As host of the 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in May, Iceland is committed to strengthening the unity of our member states and our organisation around our common values.

Your programme calls for increased cooperation between democracies to fight against the challenges to many fundamental rights that we thought were guaranteed.

How do you intend to use your presidency to share this priority at the Reykjavik Summit? And what are the main measures you will defend at the Summit?

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Madam Prime Minister.


Prime Minister of Iceland


Thank you.

Thank you very much.

You know, as I mentioned in my speech, our main focus is to – during our presidency – realising this organisation's core values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

So that is our main focus. But I think also, as I mentioned, we are dealing with a situation where those values are under attack because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

I think it's vital, and I think – and as I mentioned in my speech also – because I think this Assembly here responded very swiftly, very decisively, and I think it's important that we continue on the same track so we address the issue of accountability at the Summit.

Then, because I believe it's highly important for the future of the continent, and I know there has been focus here when it comes to the participation of young people, that we need to do more to address the challenges to those core values. I mentioned the climate crisis. I mentioned AI, which actually the Council of Europe has been leading in the debate of the relation of AI, new technologies, human rights, and ethics. I think the Council of Europe should stay in that leadership role. We should address that in the Summit.

I think if we have a very clear content, then I think it will be a good summit. Not just a good meeting while it lasts, but a good summit for the future of this Council.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Prime Minister.

The next one on the list is Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN from Ireland.

She speaks on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe but she's also our rapporteur on the 4th Summit.



Ireland, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Good morning, Madam Prime Minister.

And we are so happy to be on the road to Reykjavik, and thank you for your kind words in relation to our report. We're looking forward to the journey, to the destination, and – as you say – what happens afterwards.

How can you ensure that the voice of PACE is central to the Summit and also the voices of the youth and civil society?

Because that is equally important.

Madam Prime Minister, if I can also ask you: Iceland has an excellent record in relation to female participation in public life, and that's not by accident, maybe you can share with us your approach to childcare and parental leave that helps support that.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN.

Madam Prime Minister.


Prime Minister of Iceland


Thank you.

Thank you so much.

And again, thank you for your important work on the Assembly's report on the Summit.

I think actually when it comes to youth, I think it's very important that we include youth perspectives, both in the preparation, but also to think to the future. How can we actually have more youth perspectives in the operation of both the Parliamentary Assembly, but also the Committee of Ministers?

I think we need to... We have already made a very broad call for contributions from civil society, national human rights institutions, academia, and youth, and staff, and other groups. So I think it's highly important to do that.

Just a very short note on female participation: in my opinion, structural change is essential if we want gender equality.

Therefore, it is actually my experience that what we have done in Iceland, which we did do because of very strong activism and solidarity of women's movements that actually joined forces. I think it's very important to remember that this initiative came from the grass roots and not the politicians on the top.

We have implemented the shared parental leave, where you use it or lose it. That applies for both parents. And also, universal childcare. These structural changes were made in the 1990s and in the early 21st century. They have made all the difference for female participation.

My advice to anyone who wants to increase female participation: make the structural changes so all women can participate, not just those few on the top that can be role models. That is not real gender equality.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Prime Minister.

Now we are going to listen to Mr Zsolt NÉMETH from Hungary, and Zsolt speaks on behalf of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.



Hungary, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Prime Minister, thank you very much for basically moving into Strasbourg.

We have met you before and hopefully, we will do so. I think your leadership, until now, has been impressive and Iceland has done a fantastic job until now.

Obviously, we are in the last phase of the preparation for the Summit. We have four months to go. We have made our contribution. Our contribution, I think, is remarkable, as you said – thank you very much. And I suggest that all the Committee of Ministers members read the text because I think it is a very substantive co-operation to the final document.

My question is: on 17 May, you will go to bed and will have to assess if it was a success or not. Personally, what would you regard as the most important precondition for success? Do you not find it too dangerous that we are having too many priorities and then we may lose focus? So what are the things that you would regard as the most important preconditions for the Summit? 

Thank you very much.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


 Madam Prime Minister, what are you going to do before you fall asleep on 17 May?


Prime Minister of Iceland


Thank you.

Of course it's important to remember that the Summit outcome will depend on negotiations between 46 member states. So it's definitely not just about me and not just about Iceland.

These are very different countries, different governments, and different opinions.

But, however, if I want to say how will... you know... will the Summit be a success? I think it has every possibility to be a success. Because I think the preparations are good, I think the Irish Presidency before the Icelandic Presidency did a great job, and I think this Assembly has done a great job.

So I think we are doing all we can to ensure that it will be a success. But it won't be a success unless we have a meaningful declaration for the future of the continent.

And therefore, as I mentioned in my speech, I must say that, as important as it is to reaffirm and recommit to our values, that cannot be the only message. We need to talk about the war that's going on in Europe right now, we need to talk about accountability, and we need to talk about the future challenges.

But I think, maybe because I'm always very optimistic, that we have every chance of getting a conclusion in this issue.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Prime Minister.

Last speaker on behalf of political groups, someone you are quite familiar with, Mr Bjarni JÓNSSON, from Iceland, and he speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.


Iceland, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Madam Prime Minister,

This Assembly stands united behind its recommendations for the Reykjavík Summit adopted this week.

Therein, the Assembly urged the heads of states to take the lead to guarantee the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

We could see a new treaty, new conventions, including the crime of ecocide. The Council of Europe could set up a Commission for the protection of the environment, to be known as the “Reykjavik Commission”.

Will the Prime Minister push for these urgent matters to be put forth at the Summit?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Bjarni JÓNSSON.

Madam Prime Minister.


Prime Minister of Iceland


Well, this is actually a key issue for me personally and politically, since I, for example, have proposed amendments to the Icelandic Constitution concerning this right. They haven't been agreed to. But we will see what happens. Hopefully they will be, one day.

The Committee of Ministers recently adopted a recommendation on human rights and the protection of the environment. This new instrument calls on member states to actively consider recognising – and on a national level – the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right.

So I think this decision represents another step and a long-standing commitment to environmental protection.

As concerns criminal law aspects, our Committee has just given terms of reference to a committee of experts to draft a convention superseding and replacing the 1998 Convention on the Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law by mid-2024.

So what we want to do in our presidency is to continue this green theme. We will have a conference on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. And as I mentioned earlier, promote the need for green public administration and solutions.

I also think that youth participation comes into this, because this is maybe the most pressing issue for the young people in Europe and the world.

We invited the steering committee on human rights to consider the need for, and feasibility of, a further instrument or instruments to address these important challenges.

I think we're actually already doing a lot, but we want to really continue with this agenda. I'm very happy to see really the progress that has been made here in the Council of Europe during the last two years.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Prime Minister.

Now, if you allow me, I will group the speakers into threes and then after three speakers, you are invited to react.

The first speaker is Mr Ruben RUBINYAN from Armenia.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Madam Prime Minister.

My question concerns the ongoing blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.

Last week the Icelandic Presidency of the Committee of Ministers called for the reopening of the Lachin corridor.

Azerbaijan's actions towards the people of Nagorno-Karabakh constitute a violation of Azerbaijan's statutory and conventional obligations, as well as its membership commitments.

What steps, for example monitoring mechanism, political and legal procedures, does the Icelandic Chairmanship intend to take to address this serious breach of its commitments by Azerbaijan?

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Ruben RUBINYAN

The next speaker is Mr André GATTOLIN from France.


France, ALDE


Thank you, Mr President.

Madam Prime Minister,

Thank you first of all for speaking in the language of Molière in this Assembly, which often hears a little too much English. Thank you again.

You have shown priorities for your presidency and I fully share them. You have the opportunity to convene a Summit of Heads of State and Government. I would like to remind you that many of the subjects you have mentioned undoubtedly call for new international legislation, but there are many European or UN conventions that deal with this and many of our member states of the Council of Europe have often neither signed nor ratified them. Do you intend to take an initiative in this direction to encourage our member countries to ratify these conventions, particularly in priority areas?

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Merci à vous, Mr André GATTOLIN (Thank you, Mr André GATTOLIN in French).

The third question comes from Ms Arta BILALLI ZENDELI from North Macedonia.



North Macedonia, SOC


Thank you Mr President, thank you Ms Prime Minister for your bright presentation.

I fully agree that Iceland is taking over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers in a very critical time for Europe, a time in which war has returned to Europe.

Many views from that war, from that invasion are familiar to me and other people from the Western Balkans, because we have had the massacre of Račak in Kosovo, the massacre of Srebrenica in Bosnia, Vukovar in Croatia, and so on and so forth.

The Council of Europe actually has 46 members; at the very beginning it only had 10.

One country, Kosovo, applied for membership to the Council of Europe in May last year.

When do you think of bringing that application for opinion in the Assembly?

Because even the Western Balkans needs peace, sustainable peace, and the Council of Europe can contribute to this.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

30 seconds are 30 seconds. Both in North Macedonia and in the Netherlands.

So, Madam Prime Minister, three not too easy questions for you.


Prime Minister of Iceland


Well, thank you.

To begin with the Lachin corridor, Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Nagorno-Karabakh. Well, we have the history following the ceasefire in 2020 and 2021. All parties involved agreed to work towards ensuring peace and stability in the South Caucuses and that would be very beneficial for all people living in that region.

And it should be recalled that by becoming members of the organisation in 2001 – this organisation – Armenia and Azerbaijan undertook to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. And both countries must act in accordance with their commitments.

When it comes to the Lachin corridor, the current humanitarian situation in the region is a matter of growing concern and my Foreign Minister, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, took on a role as the President of the Committee of Ministers, issued the statement in this respect calling also for freedom of movement and communication to be fully restored. And expressed there a concern about the precarious humanitarianisation situation as the result of a month-long blockade.

What can I say? Of course, dialogue is the key to avoid really further deterioration of the situation, and the Committee of Ministers will continue to follow those developments but it is not an easy case. It is not an easy case.

Mr André GATTOLIN, merci beaucoup pour votre question (many thanks for your question in French), which is also complicated because you asked really about the ratification of several conventions, and as I mentioned in my speech, I talked specifically about the Istanbul Convention, not all member states have ratified the Istanbul Convention. However, I think this is something that we need to address and have an open conversation about because this is, of course, the mechanism that is so important for this institution: that we ratify the conventions and follow the rules that we have promised to follow. So will we have an initiative? Well, I think we can take note of this in our preparations for the Summit and also during our Presidency.

Then was the question on Kosovo. We had an official application for membership from Kosovo in May 2022, which is now being considered by the Committee of Ministers in accordance with the relevant rules with the view to transmitting it to the Parliamentary Assembly. It is a complex issue, also, and not a unanimous view among our 46 member states on the approach to be taken with regard to Kosovo. And the Committee is following a step-by-step approach. Over the last months, it has received legal information on the issue and held exchanges of views with high-level personalities such as Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade–Pristina dialogue, and Dunja Mijatović Human Rights Commissioners.

And I would also like to add that during our Presidency, Iceland has already had extensive consultation with all member states of the Council on how best to proceed and we will continue to do that and remain in close contact with all member states to proceed in full compliance with existing rules.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Prime Minister.

We take three more questions, if you allow me.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The first speaker is Mr Damien COTTIER from Switzerland.

You have the floor.


Switzerland, ALDE


Thank you, Madam Prime Minister.

As you said, we must prepare for the future, and that is the purpose of the Reykjavik Summit.

Thank you to the Icelandic Presidency for putting youth at the center of its activities.

Do you agree that it should be one of the important points of the Reykjavik Summit to really orient the youth of the whole continent towards the values of the Council of Europe and to have ambitious programmes in this field for more democracy, human rights and the rule of law?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Damien COTTIER.

The second question comes from Mr Enis KERVAN, from the Assembly of Kosovo.

Mr Enis KERVAN, you have the floor.


Assembly of Kosovo*


Thank you, dear President,

Dear Prime Minister, thank you for being with us today here and thank you for your presentation.

Numerous international report acknowledge the immense concrete progress that Kosovo has made in three pillars of the Council of Europe: democracy, human rights and rule of law.

As you know, my question is same with Arta. In May of last year Kosovo has submitted application for membership in the Council of Europe and what is your position as Iceland for the membership of Kosovo to the Council of Europe?

I'm asking that as a citizen of my country.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Enis KERVAN.

The last question in this series comes from Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO, from Ukraine.


Ukraine, EC/DA


Madam Prime Minister,

Happy to see you again.

My first question is, just minutes ago the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted for a special tribunal against Mr Vladimir Putin and Mr Alexander Lukashenko, and others guilty in this war of aggression against Ukraine.

Will Iceland support it and take part in it?

Will it be in the documents for the 4th Summit?

A second thing which I think is very important – before the Fourth Summit in Reykjavik, which will be a very symbolic and I hope historical one – to visit Ukraine.

Welcome to Ukraine, I think your visit will be very important and symbolic. We're waiting for you.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO.

Madam Prime Minister.


Prime Minister of Iceland


Thank you for all your questions.

First, concerning youth: I mentioned it in my speech. Children and young people are actually one of the four pillars of our presidency programme. We are working closely with the Council's Youth Department and the Advisory Council on Youth during our presidency and in the lead up to the Summit.

I was here actually in November speaking in a democracy forum when this room here was filled with young people. They were actually quite excited. It was a very lively discussion. It filled me, at least, with optimism for the youth of Europe, because I saw a very active group ready to really take on very pressing issues. I think if we really open up, it won't be a problem to really have the young people of Europe working with us and for this Council.

I think it's actually essential for the future of this Council. This organisation needs to be fit for purpose, to meet the expectations of future generations. That's why I cannot place enough emphasis on how we also must talk about the future challenges which the young people around our continent have been telling us to do something about: of course I'm talking about climate, I'm also talking about biodiversity, I'm talking about the environment in general, and its strong relation to human rights.

We have also been in contact with the National Youth Council of Iceland. We hope they will consult with their fellows in Iceland and prepare a submission, because we have launched an open call for input for the Summit. So the call is really open for all and we hope that we get a lot of responses.

The next question was about Kosovo. As I indicated in my previous answer, the Committee of Ministers is now considering the application of Kosovo. In any application for membership to the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers consults with the Parliamentary Assembly and, as needed, with other experts and stakeholders.

You asked about the timing: it's very difficult to say anything definite about the timing of the decision, as the procedure of the Assembly can take time. It's a lengthy process. I talked about it in general, when we have democratic processes, as I did in my speech – they usually take time and that is something that we respect.

But I think I can agree – and I want to say that here – to the principles of the Council of Europe, that all the people living in Kosovo should have a European perspective and the benefit of European standards for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. I think this is a very important factor coming from the Council of Europe. But as I said, we are following the procedures and doing things as thoroughly as we can.

Finally on Ukraine,

I would just like to say because we have met here before several times, your commitment to your democratic duties here is remarkable during these challenging times.

I would like to assure you that Iceland stands firmly with Ukraine and international law. Ukraine will continue to be the most pressing issue for the Council of Europe and our presidency. There has nearly been a whole year of war now, which is a terrible fact. Because we are here in this room, every day we watch democracy, human rights and the rule of law being violated, with the consequences of millions of people suffering.

So you ask about a special tribunal. You had a discussion this morning. I will most certainly look into that discussion because as I stated earlier, Iceland firmly supports that the Council of Europe takes on its role to ensure that Russia is held accountable.

The Committee of Ministers stresses the need to ensure a comprehensive system of accountability for serious violations of international law arising out of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, to avoid impunity and to prevent further violations. The committee remains seized with this question, also including in the light of the Ukrainian proposals to establish a register of damage, a comprehensive international compensation mechanism, and the proposal of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression will also be looked into.

The annual exchange of views with the United Nations in February this year will be devoted to the theme of accountability for human rights violations committed in Ukraine, and the role of the international community.

Finally, thank you for your invitation: I have to come to Ukraine.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Madam Prime Minister, for answering our questions.

Before you go to Ukraine you first have to attend a side event which is going to start in 4 minutes. So therefore, I now have to interrupt the list of speakers.

Thank you very much for your contribution, your vision on how we are going on our road to Reykjavik for the Fourth Summit, the role of our Assembly.

May I all inform you that at 1:00 p.m., a side event on intersex people and the human rights position of these citizens starts, and then we will come back here in our Assembly at 5:00 p.m. to hold our next public sitting with the agenda approved on Monday.

The sitting is adjourned.

The sitting is closed at 1 p.m.