At the invitation of the Icelandic Presidency, the Heads of State and Government of the 46 member states of the Council of Europe met for a summit in Reykjavik on 16 and 17 May 2023. Germany was represented by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz; the deputy head of the German delegation was Minister of State for Europe and Climate Dr Anna Lührmann.
In addition to the member states, representatives of the EU, the United Nations and the OSCE as well as representatives of the five observer states – the United States, the Vatican, Japan, Canada and Mexico – were invited to attend.
In the 74-year history of the organisation, the oldest international organisation of states in Europe, this was only the fourth meeting at this level. Traditionally, the Council of Europe has convened a summit when decisions of great import have to be made. In light of the Russian war of aggression and Russia’s subsequent exclusion from the Council of Europe, the focus in Reykjavik was on a renewed commitment to the organisation’s fundamental values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This was done in the awareness that the Russian attack on a neighbouring country is also an attack on Europe’s peaceful order and value system, in whose development the Council of Europe played a key role following the Second World War.
One of the key messages of the Summit was therefore a signal of solidarity and support for Ukraine. With the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, which was agreed in Reykjavik and is to be used to document the damage, loss and injury being caused by the Russian war of aggression, the Council of Europe is playing a valuable role in the international efforts to address impunity for the crimes committed by Russia. Germany supports the extremely important work of the Council of Europe and of the Register by means of additional, voluntary contributions on top of its annual contributions.
The previous Council of Europe Summits took place in Vienna in 1993, Strasbourg in 1997 and Warsaw in 2005.