Summit meeting: Council of Europe wants to hold Russia accountable


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Status: 05/16/2023 10:46 p.m

The Council of Europe plans to set up a register in which all war damage caused by Russia in Ukraine will be recorded. At the summit meeting in Iceland, Chancellor Scholz called for consistent punishment for Russian war crimes.

The summit meeting of the 46 states of the Council of Europe started with declarations of solidarity for the Ukraine attacked by Russia. At the opening of the summit in Reykjavik, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke out in favor of not letting the bridges to the “other Russia” beyond the government of President Vladimir Putin be torn down.

At some point, Russia’s war against Ukraine will end, said Scholz at the start of the summit meeting. “And one thing is certain: it will not end with a victory for Putin’s imperialism.” Because they will support Ukraine until a just peace is reached.

“Until then, as the Council of Europe, we should maintain bridges to the representatives of another Russia, another Belarus – and thus keep the prospect of a democratic, peaceful future for both countries open – no matter how unlikely it may seem to us today,” said Scholz.

At the same time, he demanded consistent punishment for Russian war crimes in Ukraine and systematic recording of the war damage caused by Russia. The Council of Europe could play an important role in this.

German systems could also help with air defense over Kiev.

Register for war damage is to come

A register for recording war damage in Ukraine is to be set up at the summit on Wednesday. It should record all damage caused by Russia in Ukraine, according to the draft of the summit declaration. The register is intended to be the first step on the way to possible compensation payments.

In his speech, Scholz demanded that Russia pay for the damage caused in Ukraine during the war. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made similar statements. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it could make Russian soldiers shy away from new war crimes in Ukraine if there was a chance they would be held accountable.

Scholz also assured Ukraine that he wanted to help advance accession to the European Union. But that also applies to the states of the Western Balkans, Moldova and, in the future, Georgia. The Council of Europe, to which Ukraine belongs, could also be helpful here. The institution is probably more important today than ever before, he said with a view to the turning point in the course of the war against Ukraine.

“We are Europeans, so we value peace”

In the evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked his supporters via video link and emphasized European cohesion. “Russia is trying very hard to improve its ability to kill. We are trying very hard to improve the protection of our people. And I thank all countries and leaders who are helping us to improve our overall air defenses,” said Zelenskyy. “We are Europeans, so we value peace, we are Europeans, so we act with 100 percent of our strength when it comes to protecting our way of life.”

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 as the guardian of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe and is independent of the EU. Russia was excluded after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Belarus is only represented at the summit as an observer. It is only the fourth summit meeting of the Council of Europe in its more than 70-year history. More than 30 heads of state and government from the 46 member countries are expected at this year’s meeting.

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