Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD will visit Strasbourg today as part of Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of Europe.
The Minister will address the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and join Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto for a panel on how to reinforce democratic security across Europe in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Ahead of these public engagements, Minister Coveney will meet senior leaders across the Council, including the Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, President of PACE Tiny Kox and the Council’s Secretary General Marija Burić. There, he will announce €865,000 in new financial contributions to support Ireland’s Presidency priorities, above all the Council’s revised Action Plan for Ukraine, the work of the European Court of Human Rights, and the implementation of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women.
He will also meet bilaterally with Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Prime Minister of Iceland, to whom Ireland will hand the Presidency in November, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kosovo, Donika Gervalla-Schwarz.
In his address to PACE, Minister Coveney will welcome Secretary General’s Burić appointment of former President Mary Robinson as a member of a High Level Group that, over the coming months, will reflect on the Council of Europe’s new realities and challenges and future work.
Speaking ahead of the visit. Minister Coveney said:
‘‘As Presidency, Ireland aims to reaffirm what we consider ‘‘the conscience of Europe’’, ensuring the Council does all it can to support democracy, human rights, and rule of law in Ukraine and to hold Russian authorities to account.
“The High-Level Group Secretary General Burić has convened will substantially advance that goal, shaping the organisation’s focus for years to come and setting the agenda for a summit of the Council’s 46 heads of State and Government.
“In our former President Mary Robinson, I am delighted that the Group will benefit from the wisdom of a global champion of human rights, gender equality, and climate justice, with a particular appreciation of the Council’s most vital institution, the European Court of Human Rights.’’
The Minister added:
‘‘Strengthening and formalising the Council’s engagement with civil society leaders across the Russian Federation and Belarus is a priority for our Presidency. In that context, I look forward to joining Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya before the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg to consider how we can strengthen Democratic Security in Europe.
“In meetings with the Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, and others, I will also take the opportunity to underscore the importance of the European Convention of Human Rights to the Good Friday Agreement and, in that context, discuss our concern over the UK Government’s recent ‘Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.’”
The Irish Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers began on 20 May and runs to mid-November. Further details are available on https://www.ireland.ie/en/coe/