Rinkēvičs champions 'Register of Damage' for Russian crimes

On June 20, Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, in his capacity of the Chair of the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee of Ministers, addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) over the priorities of the Latvian CoE Presidency and current political issues addressed by the CoE Committee of Ministers.

Rinkēvičs stressed the importance of a newly-created 'Register of Damage', as a first practical step towards a future international compensation mechanism for Ukraine, and called on other states to join this initiative.

“Latvia is proud to be among the founding members of the Register of Damage... As Presidency, we invite all member States of the Council of Europe and beyond to join this initiative. During our Presidency, we will advance its operational launch. The first meeting of participants of the Register of Damage at the end of June must address the practical steps going forward," he stated.

"We must spare no efforts to ensure comprehensive accountability for the crimes committed by Russia,” he said. “International efforts must continue to establish a special tribunal for the crime of aggression and the Council of Europe should contribute to this process with its expertise.”

In September, Latvia will organise an informal conference of European Justice ministers to provide a platform for discussion on how to advance Russia’s accountability, as well as the issue of reuniting Ukrainian children with their families.

“We should continue the implementation of already existing initiatives in support of Ukraine,” the minister said, adding that the Action Plan on Resilience, Recovery, and Rebuilding of Ukraine was one of these.

Edgars Rinkēvičs addresses Council of Europe in Strasbourg
Edgars Rinkēvičs addresses Council of Europe in Strasbourg

In a questions and answers session with PACE parliamentarians, the Minister highlighted the priorities of the Latvian Presidency: strengthening democracy and the rule of law; promoting freedom of expression, journalists’ safety and the digital agenda of the Council of Europe; and advancing reforms of the Council of Europe, including through implementing the decisions of the Reykjavik Summit.

The Minister paid particular attention to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and to Russia’s international accountability: “Ukraine must receive all the support it needs. The Member States of the Council of Europe have reaffirmed their unwavering support to the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We call on the Russian Federation to comply with its international obligations and withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Russia must assume full legal and financial responsibility for its aggression and violations of international law.”




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His full speech is attached to this story.

During his visit, the Minister met with the President of PACE, Tiny Kox, the CoE Secretary-General, Maria Pejčinović Burić, and the President of the CoE Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Leen Verbeek.

Edgars Rinkēvičs also took part in the unveiling of a photography exhibition on Latvian folk costumes. The event featured the performance of a Latvian diaspora choir, “Staro”.

Latvia took over the six-month presidency of the CoE Committee of Ministers on 17 May 2023. This is Latvia’s second presidency since joining the organisation in 1995. The Latvian Foreign Minister is chairing the Committee of Ministers of the CoE.

Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe is the oldest political organisation in Europe bringing together 46 European countries. The aim of the organisation is to create a common democratic and legal space founded on respect for and protection of its core values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Following the decision of the Committee of Ministers on March 16 2022 the Russian Federation is no longer a member of the Council of Europe.

PACE is one of the key CoE bodies comprised of the delegations of members of national parliaments from 46 CoE member states.

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