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Minister Coveney addresses Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Minister Coveney addresses Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and welcomes former President Mary Robinson’s appointment to new High Level Reflection Group

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD will visit Strasbourg today as part of Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of Europe.

The Minister will address the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and join Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto for a panel on how to reinforce democratic security across Europe in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of these public engagements, Minister Coveney will meet senior leaders across the Council, including the Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, President of PACE Tiny Kox and the Council’s Secretary General Marija Burić. There, he will announce €865,000 in new financial contributions to support Ireland’s Presidency priorities, above all the Council’s revised Action Plan for Ukraine, the work of the European Court of Human Rights, and the implementation of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women.

He will also meet bilaterally with Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Prime Minister of Iceland, to whom Ireland will hand the Presidency in November, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kosovo, Donika Gervalla-Schwarz.

In his address to PACE, Minister Coveney will welcome Secretary General’s Burić appointment of former President Mary Robinson as a member of a High Level Group that, over the coming months, will reflect on the Council of Europe’s new realities and challenges and future work.

Speaking ahead of the visit. Minister Coveney said:

‘‘As Presidency, Ireland aims to reaffirm what we consider ‘‘the conscience of Europe’’, ensuring the Council does all it can to support democracy, human rights, and rule of law in Ukraine and to hold Russian authorities to account.

“The High-Level Group Secretary General Burić has convened will substantially advance that goal, shaping the organisation’s focus for years to come and setting the agenda for a summit of the Council’s 46 heads of State and Government.

“In our former President Mary Robinson, I am delighted that the Group will benefit from the wisdom of a global champion of human rights, gender equality, and climate justice, with a particular appreciation of the Council’s most vital institution, the European Court of Human Rights.’’

The Minister added:

‘‘Strengthening and formalising the Council’s engagement with civil society leaders across the Russian Federation and Belarus is a priority for our Presidency. In that context, I look forward to joining Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya before the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg to consider how we can strengthen Democratic Security in Europe.

“In meetings with the Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, and others, I will also take the opportunity to underscore the importance of the European Convention of Human Rights to the Good Friday Agreement and, in that context, discuss our concern over the UK Government’s recent ‘Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.’”

The Irish Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers began on 20 May and runs to mid-November. Further details are available on www.ireland.ie/coe

ENDS

Press Office

21 June 2022

Minister Coveney addresses Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and welcomes former President Mary Robinson’s appointment to new High Level Reflection Group

 

Notes for editors

• Established in 1949, and headquartered in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe is the continent’s largest and oldest intergovernmental organisation.
• Ireland was amongst the organisation’s ten founding members. Today, following the expulsion of the Russian Federation on 16 March, it comprises 46 member states, including the 27 EU member states, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Ukraine.
• The organisation plays a leading role in the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law across Europe and beyond – notably through the European Court of Human Rights, which ensures the observance by member states of their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
• The European Convention on Human Rights is also a key element of the Good Friday Agreement. The Agreement saw the Convention’s incorporation into Northern Ireland law, ensuring citizens have direct access to the European Court of Human Rights.
• The Committee of Ministers is the principal intergovernmental decision-making body of the Council of Europe. Chaired on a rotating basis by member states over six month terms, Ireland has held the Presidency of the Committee on six previous occasions, most recently in 2000.
• The Parliamentary Assembly is the second of the Council’s key statutory organs. It comprises 324 parliamentarians from the national parliaments of the 46 member states. The Standing Committee comprises the President and Vice-Presidents of the Assembly, the chairpersons of political groups, the chairpersons of national delegations and the committee chairpersons, totalling some 60 parliamentarians.
• Having assumed the Presidency in Turin on 20 May, Minister Coveney will represent Ireland as Chair of the Committee of Ministers until November.
• Over the course of the six months, Ireland will chair more than a dozen meetings of the Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg, strengthening standards across a range of key areas, from media freedoms to the protection of human rights in conflict zones. Ireland will also host more than thirty Council of Europe conferences and seminars across Strasbourg, Dublin, Galway, Kerry and Cork.
• Notable events in Ireland include: a meeting of the Council’s 46 Justice Ministers in Dublin on 29-30 September, at which Minister for Justice Helen McEntee T.D. will chair discussions on how to combat domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms; the annual meeting of the Board of the Council of Europe’s Development Bank in Dublin from 8-9 July; and European Conference on Global Education, at which Member States will adopt a Dublin Declaration on how through education we can build societal commitment to greater justice, sustainability, equity and human rights.
• The voluntary financial contribution Minister Coveney announces in Strasbourg is in addition to Ireland’s annual budgetary contribution to the Council of Europe, of just over €5.5m. The organisation’s total annual budget is approximately €500m.
• At the request of the Committee of Ministers under the previous Presidency of Italy, the Council of Europe’s Secretary General has set up a High-level Reflection Group to consider the institution’s responses to the new realities and challenges it faces.
• The Group comprises seven eminent individuals, all former heads of State or Government, Foreign Ministers or Parliamentary Speakers, selected by the Secretary General with consideration to balanced geographical distribution, gender and age, as well as diversity of competences. Alongside former President Robinson, its members are: Mr Bernard Cazeneuve, former Prime Minister of France; Ms Iveta Radičová, former Prime Minister of Slovakia; Mr Evangelos Venizelos, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Greece; Ms Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Foreign Minister of Italy; Ms Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, former Foreign Minister of Norway; and Mr Josep Dallerès Codin, former General Syndic of Andorra.
• The High Level Group will convene for the first time in Strasbourg on 29 June and meet over the summer with a view to producing a final report in the autumn, within Ireland’s Presidency term.

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