Press points of Foreign Minister Soini at the press conference of the Council of Europe Ministerial Meeting
Press points of Foreign Minister Timo Soini at the press conference of the Council of Europe
First of all, I would like to thank Secretary-General Jagland and France for great support and cooperation during our Presidency. During the last six months, we have organized many important discussions together. I also want to thank all my colleagues for arriving in Helsinki for this ministerial meeting. We have been greeted with a lovely weather and a great staff here in Finlandia hall.
I would like to start by drawing your attention to a very good document that we have agreed on today: the Helsinki political Declaration to recommit to human rights, democracy and the Rule of Law 70 years after the creation of the Council of Europe. We are very proud of this strong human rights document, which was adopted by all 47 member States.
Finland started its Presidency at a difficult time – the organization was, and is still, facing political, economic and institutional challenges: there is the big question of Russian participation and non-payment as well as the economic and administrative reform of the organization.
I must emphasize once more that the root cause of the political issue was the illegal annexation of Crimea.
As the chair, we have tried to listen to all the stakeholders, facilitate discussions and build trust to find a constructive way forward. Now we can tell you that here in Helsinki some common ground has been found. Our news are positive. We have today taken a decision regarding the rights and obligations of all member States.
This does not itself solve the question on Russia’s participation in the Parliamentary Assembly, because PACE needs to take its own decisions, but this is a positive development in the common response –process. It sends a clear political message about equal rights and obligations.
And more good results: It is great that a decision on the protection and promotion of civil society space was made today, with consensus. Openness and inclusion was one of our Presidency priorities and this decision was a Presidency initiative. This decision has concrete elements to promote civil society’s space!
We are also glad that the decision on the report of the Secretary General deals with new challenges: Artificial Intelligence and human rights. Technology is a topic that becomes more and more important. We want to develop this area further!
To conclude, I want to thank all member States for great co-operation and wish the Council of Europe all the best for its 70th anniversary! The organization can trust in our support also in the future.
Secretary of State Montchalin, I would like to wish France good luck for the Presidency! Thank you. Merci.