Opening the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Eiki Nestor said that shared values bind the Europeans together, and thanked the members of the PACE for persistently demanding the release of Ukrainian air-force pilot Nadiya Savchenko.
Eiki Nestor said at the meeting that already in the year of 1905, renowned Estonian poet Gustav Suits proclaimed: “Let us remain Estonians, but let us become Europeans, too!”
“Today it has become a reality. We are Estonians, but we are Europeans as well,” President of the Riigikogu stated. “In Estonia, we are convinced that that we can be successful only when Europe is successful. It makes sense economically and politically, but I believe that first and foremost, it is our shared values, respect for democracy, human rights, personal freedoms, openness and tolerance, that bind us together.”
In his speech, Nestor also spoke about Ukrainian air-force pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured in June 2014 and sentenced to 22 years in prison in Russia. She was recently released and is now back home in Ukraine. “The PACE was one of the organizations persistently demanding her release, so I want to thank you for your help in making this possible,” he said.
At the meeting of the Standing Committee, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand will give an overview of the priorities of Estonia’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The priorities of the chairmanship of Estonia, which will last from May to November this year, are the rights of children, gender equality and human rights and the rule of law on the Internet.
The Standing Committee is made up of the President and Vice-Presidents of the PACE, the chairpersons of political groups, the chairpersons of national delegations and the committee chairpersons, totalling some 60 parliamentarians. The Standing Committee acts on the Assembly’s behalf between plenary sessions.
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