At the end of its two-day summit, the Council of Europe decided on a damage register to document the destruction in Ukraine. Not everyone participates.
The Council of Europe sets up a damage register for war damage in Ukraine. In total, 40 of the 46 countries of the Council of Europe have agreed to join or to join in the future. Turkey, Hungary, Azerbaijan and Serbia will not participate for the time being. Also included are the EU and Canada, Japan and the USA, as the Council of Europe announced in Reykjavik.
The damage register is intended to document the destruction in Ukraine attacked by Russia so that Russia can be held accountable. The register is seen as the first step towards possible compensation payments to Ukraine. The idea goes back, among other things, to a resolution of the United Nations and is now to be implemented under the umbrella of the Council of Europe. Exactly how this is to be implemented is currently unclear.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, described the decision to register as “historic”. It is one of the first legally binding instruments to hold Russia accountable for its actions.
At their summit in Reykjavik today, the 46 countries of the Council of Europe want to decide on a register for war damage in Ukraine. In this way, all damage caused by the Russian war of aggression should be documented so that Russia has to take legal and financial responsibility for it. All member countries, but also observers and other states could then join the register. The idea goes back, among other things, to a resolution of the United Nations and is now to be implemented under the umbrella of the Council of Europe.
Russia excluded, Belarus suspended
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 as the guardian of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe. The organization is independent of the EU. It also includes significantly more countries than the EU – almost all European countries. Russia was excluded after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Belarus is suspended and only represented at the summit as an observer.
Ukraine has been a member of the Council of Europe since the mid-1990s. The Reykjavik meeting is only the fourth summit of the Council in its more than 70-year history. In contrast, pro-Russian heads of state and government such as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban did not come to Iceland.
According to Ukraine in December, Russia had destroyed 35,000 objects by then, including several hundred critical infrastructure facilities such as bridges and gas pipelines. The EU Commission recently estimated the damage to Ukraine at at least 600 billion euros.
Scholz and Macron promote damage registers
The damage register should create a basis for the reconstruction of Ukraine, said Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the summit in Reykjavik on Tuesday evening. The register is a prerequisite for working with common data, said the SPD politician. It could be a basis for talks at international level. French President Emmanuel Macron also campaigned for the register: “I call on all states to join it and actively contribute to its development.” However, it is still unclear exactly how such a damage register could be designed.
At the start of its first summit in 18 years, the Council of Europe clearly sided with Ukraine in its defensive struggle against Russia. “Ukraine is fighting for democracy and for freedom. It is our common struggle,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the opening session, to which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj was also connected via video from Kiev.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) called for Russian war crimes to be punished, but also spoke out in favor of not breaking the bridges to the “other Russia” beyond President Vladimir Putin and his government.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.