“Europe is the continent with the highest human rights standards. However, a look at Europe’s external borders and in the East of Europe shows us that, even today, peace and security, stability and welfare cannot be taken for granted,” said Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany, in a speech today to a hybrid session of PACE, bringing together almost all of its members.
“All around us we see that basic human rights, not least freedom of the media and freedom of expression, are curtailed. If we shy away from facing up to the fact that our basic rights, the centrepiece of our democratic endeavours, are being violated, that would call into question our entire European vision. The rule of law is an essential pre-requisite for ordinary people’s trust and confidence in their state and in their institutions. People must be able to trust that their state will fulfil the obligations it entered into under international law, and is therefore subject to international law and the courts. That confidence is a pre-condition for a functioning and stable democracy. We all know that trust is fleeting, and that we must continuously work to earn the trust of our citizens.”
The coronavirus pandemic is one of the challenges we must overcome. Our health and welfare systems face a massive challenge, affecting our ability to co-exist. This is a real litmus test for our societies. We were obliged to curtail individual freedoms in order to tackle the pandemic, and of course we had to put in place very stringent pre-conditions, but all our measures had to be properly justified; they had to be limited and they had to be proportionate,” she underlined.