On 16 May in Reykjavik, before the opening of the Summit of the heads of states of the Council of Europe (CoE) member states, President of Latvia Egils Levits met with the President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson. The President of Iceland congratulated Latvia on assuming the presidency of the CoE and wished success in achieving the set goals.
The President of Latvia praised Iceland's presidency of the Council of Europe, where the issue of Russia's responsibility for the aggression against Ukraine has been particularly actively pursued. The two presidents discussed the establishment of a compensation mechanism and a register of damages, as well as the CoE's support for the proposal for an international ad hoc tribunal to try the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The Presidents of Latvia and Iceland discussed the need to strengthen the international role and influence of the Council of Europe in shaping public opinion, which would be important not only in the context of the current geopolitical situation, but also when thinking about global issues. Examples discussed included human rights, climate and migration issues, the rapid development of digital technologies and artificial intelligence. These pose challenges to democracy, the rule of law and the Western value system. E. Levits noted that this was in line with Latvia's objectives for the CoE presidency.
The fourth summit of the heads of the Council of Europe member states takes place in Reykjavik on 16-17 May. Latvia will take over the presidency of the CoE from Iceland. Latvia's CoE Committee of Ministers presidency will last from 17 May to 15 November. Latvia's priorities will be (1) strengthening democracy and the rule of law, (2) addressing freedom of expression, journalists' safety and digital issues, and (3) promoting reform of the Council of Europe.