Russia’s illegal aggression against Ukraine violates international law and threatens the democratic system, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday, May 16. However, this crisis also “catalyzed our unity and our determination to defend our democratic way of life,” he added.
He made these statements during the speech held in opening a roundtable co-chaired with Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel on the sidelines of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in Reykjavík.
“By its illegal aggression against Ukraine, Russia has blatantly violated international law and has put a major threat to our democratic system. Russia’s war is an attack on our very common values and principles. But this crisis, the most severe since the end of the Second World War, has catalyzed our unity and our determination to defend our democratic way of life,” president Iohannis said at the opening of his speech.
He also noted that democracies did come together in support of Ukraine and, beyond that, “in support of all who fight for freedom, democracy, against intimidation, authoritarianism, and tyranny.”
The Romanian leader also referred to the other challenges the world has faced in recent years, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its “inevitable restrictions,” as well as “a huge wave of disinformation, enabling the resurgence of exacerbated nationalism.” And hate speech, misinformation, manipulations, violence against journalists, and malign influences are, the president said, “only a few examples of effects of these crises all over Europe.”
“Democratic values, civic space, media freedom, diversity, and liberal democracy are all under pressure on the European continent,” Iohannis also stated.
Thus, he emphasized the need “to invest in making democracies more resilient and better able to safeguard our fundamental rights, build longstanding peace and stability, and ultimately to deliver prosperity for all.”
The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe takes place in Reykjavík on May 16–17.