Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić has opened the high-level Forum “Future of Democracy” on Defending Against Authoritarianism in Vilnius while conducting an official visit to Lithuania.
“The Council of Europe has been warning about the rise of authoritarianism rooted in the return of extreme populism and nationalism on many parts of our continent. My most recent annual report identified the trends in democratic backsliding that accompany this, making clear what European governments must do to reverse them”, underscored the Secretary General in her welcoming remarks together with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Belarusian Democratic Movement leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
“As democracy activists around the world have always known that the form of government, they seek is the only route to freedom, fairness, and dignity. To choose who is in power, not have them imposed on us. To be free to think our own thoughts and express them without fear or favour. To have a justice system that is worthy of the name: protecting the innocent, prosecuting the guilty, and standing strong against corruption. These and other qualities are inherent to the peace, prosperity and inclusion that define effective and functioning democracies, and which are anathema to autocrats. Billions of people around the world benefit from democracy and billions more would give all that they have for that chance. The yearning remains real. But so too is the will of some to defy it”, stressed Marija Pejčinović Burić.
In the meeting between the Secretary General and the Foreign Minister Landsbergis, the co-operation between the Organisation and Lithuania has been highlighted including the preparations for the upcoming Committee of Ministers Presidency (17 May - 13 November 2024). Support to Ukraine and follow-up to the Reykjavik Summit has been at the centre of the exchange of views with Vice Foreign Minister Jovita Neliupšienė.
In the meeting with Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska, Marija Pejčinović Burić emphasised the relevance of the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, as an essential component of an international compensation mechanism. A discussion with PACE delegation head Emanuelis Zingeris at the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) closed the programme.
Secretary General also met with Irish Minister for European Affairs Peter Burke. The conversation underlined the importance of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine for 2023-2026 and it was an opportunity to discuss the Middle East Peace Process.