Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu voiced his concern over extensive human rights violations in Belarus and Russia at a video meeting of the foreign ministers of the Council of Europe on Wednesday (November 4).
Speaking about Belarus, Reinsalu (Isamaa) said, unfortunately, there is an increasing trend of civilian suffering in the region.
"The situation in Belarus is not getting any better. On the contrary, Belarusian authorities are speaking to their people in the language of repressions and arrests. Although Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe, the Council has relevant tools to assist the Belarusians in a peaceful transition. I call on Madame Secretary General to further strengthen her active stance in this regard," the foreign minister said. He added that the Council of Europe was among the most important defenders of human rights in Europe.
Reinsalu also condemned the systematic human rights violations by Russia, a member of the Council of Europe.
"Russia continues to implement the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights selectively. The recently adopted changes in the Russian constitution once again show the alarming trend of setting national policies above its international obligations."
The foreign minister said that the recent steps by Russia clearly demonstrate that the restoration of Russia's voting rights at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was an untimely and unnecessary move that only sent the wrong message.
In his statement, the minister also condemned the harassment of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in illegally annexed Crimea. There are also constant violations in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are occupied by Russia.
Reinsalu also called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to find a peaceful solution under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group to the ongoing armed conflict. The minister emphasised that the violence against civilians must stop.
The enormous challenges we are facing now force us to pay more attention to the safeguarding of our norms and values in the digital age, to which Estonia contributes, inter alia, as the current Coordinator on Information Policy of the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 with the aim of protecting and upholding human rights, the rule of law and democracy. The Council of Europe currently has 47 members and helps protect the rights of nearly 830 million people.
The two bodies of the Council of Europe are the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The European Court of Human Rights created on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights decides on whether the rights of citizens of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe stipulated by the convention have been violated, and on disputes between states.
Editor: Helen Wright