"Together we must stand firm for Ukraine and international law. Over the 70 years of the existence of the Council of Europe, it has been an outstanding, standard-setting body in areas such as human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. Unfortunately, today the authority of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is in jeopardy. The illegal annexation of Crimea, the armed conflict in Donbas, the occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the flagrant violations of the freedom of speech and assembly, and the persecution of human rights activists are issues the avoidance of which undermines the public trust in the Council of Europe and the values for which it stands," said Speaker Ināra Mūrniece, addressing the audience at the European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments of the member states of the Council of Europe.
"The Resolution unconditionally restoring full rights of the Russian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe raises doubts about the credibility of this organisation. The resolution was approved while the Russian Federation was continuing its military aggression in East Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea. Russia has done nothing to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and Georgia," said Speaker Mūrniece, reminding that Russia's voting rights were suspended in response to the first act of annexation of a territory of a sovereign country since the end of World War II.
The Speaker also underlined the vote of Latvia and other like-minded countries against the Resolution and stressed the interest to restore trust in the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly.
At the initiative of Ukraine, a meeting of the Speakers of the Parliaments of the Baltic+ Group countries is scheduled to take place in Strasbourg on Friday. On 1 October, the heads of the delegations of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Georgia to the PACE signed a joint statement on the establishment of the Baltic+ Group.
Before the opening of the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament in Strasbourg, the Speaker also met with the Speakers of Parliaments of other Baltic States and Nordic countries (NB8). "Today we all—the Nordic and Baltic countries—have to stand for democracy and fundamental values. We are going to maintain a close dialogue with our Ukrainian colleagues to coordinate our further steps at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe," emphasised Mūrniece.
Speaker Mūrniece is in Strasbourg, France, until 25 October to take part in the European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments of the member states of the Council of Europe. Jānis Vucāns, Head of the Latvian delegation of the Baltic Assembly, is also attending the conference.
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