Statement at the Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik

Statement by Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre at the Council of Europe Summit, Reykjavik 16-17 May 2023. The statement was delivered by Helge Seland, Norway’s Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe.

Madam Chair, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Council of Europe summits do not happen often. They only take place at important turning points in our history.

The reason for gathering now, is that war is raging on our continent. Russia is waging a full-scale war against Ukraine. But this is not just an attack on Ukraine. It is an attack by the Russian autocracy against our European democracies and our values.

We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. And we will hold the Russian leadership to account for the crimes that they have committed. Because making sure that Russia does not win this war is key to the security of all European nations. And with our common resolve, and unity around our values, we shall prevail.

Our European democracies were not built in one day. We constantly need to adapt and reinvent our democracies to stand up to the challenges we face and new issues as they arise.

We welcome the Reykjavik Principles for Democracy that we adopt here today. It is self-evident that these 10 guiding principles should be implemented by all of us. We believe that they can serve as inspiration for countries outside Europe as well.

We hear questions about democracy in our Member States, and whether it delivers for the people.

Let me be clear. Democracy does deliver for the people. Our great European nations have proven this time and again since the Second World War. That democratic societies, where the rule of law is upheld, and where governments protect the human rights of their people; such societies are best equipped to provide peace and prosperity for their citizens.

We also welcome the Appendix on the Convention System.

We cannot hide that there are unresolved challenges in implementation of commitments and Court judgments in some of our Member States. We all need to step up action to improve, no matter how difficult it may seem, politically, at home. Having political prisoners is, of course, not possible in the 21st century.

The Council of Europe has assisted us in upholding our values and in achieving better societies, each and every day, for the past 74 years. We will continue our steadfast support for the organization. And we look forward to celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe next year.

I thank you.