In an address at Parliamentary Assembly Today, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou called for a stronger Council of Europe and greater multilateralism to tackle the many challenges facing Europe today – from the war in Ukraine to climate change and economic and social upheaval.
Addressing parliamentarians at the PACE summer session, the first female President of the Hellenic Republic recalled the roots of ancient Greek democracy and praised the “democratic symbolism” of the Parliamentary Assembly as a agora, or market of ideas, which remains at the heart of its political identity.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine represents “a direct and frontal challenge to liberal democracy and European values”, she stressed, adding: “Russia’s incursion does not only concern the Ukrainian people heroic, which gives us the greatest example of self-sacrifice and patriotism, but it is the business of all of us. She welcomed the “strong message of unity” contained in the decision to exclude Russia from the Council of Europe. Supporting the Assembly’s proposal to establish a ad hoc An international tribunal charged with investigating the crime of aggression against Ukraine, it highlighted Greece’s interest in the Mariupol region, where a Greek community of more than 100,000 people “has lived for centuries.”
Ms. Sakellaropoulou also supported the holding of a fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government on the future of the Council of Europe, specifying that its success would be conditional on “good preparation and clear objectives” .
Addressing the universal challenge of climate change, she said the war in Ukraine must not become a “pretext” to slow down the green transition. “Pure and sustainable development policies guarantee not only the sustainability of our planet, but also the intangible dimension of our daily life, the form of life of our civilization,” she said.
She warned that fundamental rights were under “intense pressure” – from LGBTQ+ rights to tackling anti-Semitism – and spoke of the “harsh reality for women” of domestic violence. The Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention constitutes a “compass” for action aimed at preventing such violence, she stressed.