In his communication at the opening of the 44th session on 21 March in Strasbourg, the President Verbeek deplored the outrageous war of aggression that is still hitting Ukraine after more than one year. The Congress members unanimously adopted a Declaration on the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine. The Congress declaration is a clear message of condemnation of this brutal war and a strong reaffirmation of the Congress’ unwavering solidarity with Ukraine, its people and communities : “We must continue to show our Ukrainian friends, colleagues and peers - the elected leaders that are engaged in a battle for their lives, their citizens, their towns and their futures - that they are NOT forgotten and that we will do everything in our power now, and in the future, to support them.”, he highlighted.
The Commissioner for Human rights Dmytro Lubinets also took part, remotely, in the debate on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war against Ukraine. He stressed the importance of mechanisms for the protection of citizens' rights on the local level for everybody. He described how his office was implementing this approach by opening representative offices of the Commissioner in each region.
In his communication, the President Verbeek also underlined that the Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held in Reykjavik next May is crucial, as it will be an opportunity for all Council of Europe member states to reaffirm their investment in the core values of democracy, human rights and rule of law. ” The need to involve the local and regional level in policies and actions designed at national level to strengthen democracy and commitment to democratic values, to reverse the democratic backsliding and improve a spirit of good multi-level governance.”, stressed President Verbeek
Addressing Congress members, the same day, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić higlithed the significant role of the Congress as one of the political assemblies of the Council of Europe. She also paid tribute to the key role played by local and regional stakeholders, with their courage and resilience. “Despite our resolute will and common actions, much remains to be done, and there is no time for complacency. We have to stand united around our values in the face of the extraordinary challenges we have to address.,” she said in conclusion.
On the Road to Reykjavik the CoE Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress strive to further develop effective mechanisms for periodical consultation and permanent co-operation between national, regional and local levels in Europe.
In addition, in connection with the observation of elections, the Congress adopted a report on the Regional Council and District Assembly Elections in Berlin (Germany). The rapporteur, Vladimir Prebilic (Slovenia, SOC/G/PD), welcomed the professionally managed election, but recommended standardisation of procedures. “This election observation mission was a historical deployment not only for the Congress but also for the Berlin authorities. The Congress mission was mentioned in over 60 press article and was a welcomed opportunity to shed some light on the work of the Congress.”, he concluded.
Agenda – Web file – Multimedia (Live webcasts, interviews, videos and photo)