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The Estonian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is taking part this week in the PACE winter session in Strasbourg, where the agenda includes the situation of the children deported from Ukraine. The wife of the Ukrainian head of state Olena Zelenska will also take part in the discussion.

The head of the Estonian delegation to PACE Liisa Pakosta defines the focus of the visit as making effort to convince the parliamentarians of other European countries to join forces against Russia’s cruelty, the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children. “The foundational values of the PACE are human rights, democracy, and strengthening the rule of law, and we need to act to keep it this way,” she said.

The Riigikogu is currently drafting a statement which clearly details the violation of international law and condemns Russia’s activities that have a tragic effect on innocent children. “Not only do we have to condemn the deportation of children, we also need to emphasise Russia’s culpability for crimes against humanity,” Pakosta said, also highlighting the importance of the International Criminal Court in prosecuting war criminals.

She also expressed support to the 10-point peace plan of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which includes the return of the deported children from Russia. “As European citizens, we have the moral duty to show that we are not all right with Russia’s cruelty against defenceless children in any way or form,” Pakosta said.

The PACE Assembly will be electing a new President at its session because the term of office of the current President Tiny Kox is ending. A new Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights will also be elected.

This week, the session will also discuss the conclusions from observing last year’s parliamentary elections in Serbia, Hamas terror attack against Israel and Israel’s response, as well as OECD’s role since Russia launched its aggression against Ukraine. The agenda also includes accusations of systematic torture in European custodial institutions. In addition, there is an ongoing debate about the democratic future of Belarus, with a speech by the leader of the democratic opposition of Belarus Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

The Estonian delegation will take the opportunity to show its support to the candidacy of the long-term member of the Estonian delegation to PACE Indrek Saar to the position of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe at the elections to be held this June. Other candidates to the position are Didier Reynders and Alain Berset.

The Estonian delegation to the session of the PACE is made up of its head Liisa Pakosta, member Eerik-Niiles Kross, and Reili Rand who has been appointed an alternate member.

Riigikogu Press Service
Karin Kangro
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