Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Fourth Council of Europe Summit Working Dinner ‘United for Ukraine’, Reykjavik
Secretary General Pejčinović Burić,
Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Prime Minister, thank you for hosting this Council of Europe Summit and for allowing me the honour of saying a few words tonight.
Being here in Reykjavik with all 46 members of the Council of Europe reminds us how diverse our European family is.
But as the theme of this dinner highlights, we stand united on the fundamental values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
Russia’s brutal aggression against the people of Ukraine is unjust, and it goes against everything the Council of Europe stands for.
In 1949, when the Council of Europe was founded, we stated that we were, and I quote, ‘Convinced that the pursuit of peace based upon justice and international co-operation is vital for the preservation of human society and civilisation.’
Those words are no less true today.
And so we had no choice. We had to draw a line and strip Russia of its membership.
There simply is no place in the Council for an autocratic and power-hungry regime that denies a fellow member state its right to exist.
The Netherlands is determined to provide Ukraine with military, economic and humanitarian support until peace and freedom are restored.
And it’s crucial that we stand united in this effort as much as we possibly can.
Because this war is not only about the future of Ukraine.
It’s also about our future, our security and our core values.
We must ask ourselves: Will Putin stop at Ukraine?
I think we all know the answer to that question.
For the Netherlands, accountability is a key issue.
One for which we feel a special responsibility.
Not least because The Hague is the international city of peace and justice, and the legal capital of the world.
We know from experience, after the downing of flight MH17, how important it is to bring perpetrators to justice.
We also know how difficult and time-consuming that can be.
And yet, we must do everything in our power to do it.
The atrocities committed by the Russians in Bucha, Mariupol and other places cannot go unpunished.
Rape, child abduction, summary executions cannot go unpunished.
War crimes cannot go unpunished.
So we must prepare for a legal battle after the military battle has ended.
The Netherlands is supporting Ukraine in those efforts.
Through direct financial support to the Ukrainian justice system and the International Criminal Court, the ICC.
And by supporting the ICC’s investigation of international crimes committed in Ukraine.
For example, we have Dutch forensic teams gathering evidence on the ground as we speak.
We’re urging all states that haven’t yet done so to sign and ratify the ICC’s Rome Statute as soon as possible.
What’s more, The Hague is home to the new International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression, which is currently being set up. And we’ve offered to host a future special tribunal for the crime of aggression.
Of course, accountability also implies compensation for damage suffered – financial or otherwise.
I’m very pleased that we’ve reached agreement within the framework of the Council of Europe to establish a register of damage.
This will document evidence and claims of damage, loss or injury caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
And I’m proud to say that the Netherlands has also expressed its willingness to host this register – at Ukraine’s request.
I assure you we will give it all the support it needs.
And I urge you all, especially those countries that have not yet aligned themselves with this crucial initiative, to do the same.
We must stand together, united for Ukraine.