Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) attended a reception and dinner in Helsinki on Thursday on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe. Thursday's meeting, held at Finlandia Hall, focused on current challenges to the future of the council.
Reinsalu called upon the Council of Europe to remain resolute in continuing dialogue on Russia fulfilling its obligations as a member state, according to a ministry press release.
"We must remain unwavering when confronting blatant violations of human rights and the rule of law, such as the ones Russia is carrying out in the occupied territories of Ukraine and Georgia," he said. "The decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to introduce sanctions against Russia following the annexation of Crimea was fully justified, and the body must continue to have the right to react to violations of statutory obligations independently."
According to Reinsalu, the Council of Europe is one of the most important promoters of democratic values and the rule of law.
"All 47 member states, without exception, must abide by these principles, and Russia's continued aggression must under no circumstances be rewarded," he stressed. "Estonia will continue to be one of the most vocal supporters of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia."
The minister also congratulated Finland on a successful presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. According to Reinsalu, Finland has done a stellar job at raising the question of artificial intelligence (AI) and its relation to human rights. He wished every success to France, who is taking over the presidency of the committee as of Friday.
The Council of Europe was founded on May 5, 1949, to uphold and promote human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. The Council of Europe currently has 47 member states that are home to more than 830 million people.
Editor: Aili Vahtla