Ukrainian War-Damages Registry Approved at Reykjavík Summit

Reykjavík Summit 2023

During the Reykjavík Summit of the Council of Europe this morning, European leaders signed an agreement to establish a “Register of Damage” for the war in Ukraine. PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir has stated that it is important that Russia is held to account for its war of aggression in Ukraine, Mbl.is reports.

43 countries already signed the agreement

This morning, European leaders approved a so-called “Register of Damage” at the Reykjavík Summit of the European Council. As noted by Mbl.is, it is assumed that the registry, designed to hold Moscow to account, will be operational for three years, recording data and claims due to damages and losses incurred by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mbl.is reports that a total of 43 countries, alongside the European Union, have already signed, or announced their intention to sign, an agreement to the establishment of the registry. Several countries have, however, dropped out: among them Turkey and Hungary – both of whom are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Armenia, Azerbaijan, Serbia, and Bosnia have announced plans to refrain from signing the agreement.

Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the European Council, was quoted by Deutsche Welle (DW) as stating that the creation of the registry was “a first, necessary, urgent step” ensuring “justice that is centred on the victims” of the war.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated that support and solidarity with Ukraine had been a priority during Iceland’s presidency of the Council of Europe and that it was important that the outcome of the summit in Reykjavík was that Russia was held responsible for its attack in Ukraine in a broad way. The Council of Europe should play an important role in this regard.

Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, was also present at the signing of the agreement; the Council of Europe’s Register of Damage will be based in the Hague and will also operate a branch in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal welcomed the registry: “We are grateful to the Council of Europe and all the participating countries for providing such support from the highest level of government. We invite other countries from all over the world to join the registry to express their support for the importance of Russian responsibility for its war against Ukraine,” Mbl.is notes.

As noted by DW, the United States, who attended the summit as an observer; Canada; and Japan have also voiced their support for the creation of the register.

Zelenskyy to European Council: “Is There Anything We Can’t Do?”

Reykjavík Summit

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, delivered a remote address at the Reykjavík Summit of the European Council yesterday. After Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir had formally opened the meeting, Zelenskyy related how the Ukrainian armed forces had successfully thwarted a Russian missile attack and thanked European leaders for their support.

Three primary objectives

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir opened the Reykjavík Summit of the European Council at the Harpa  Music and Conference Hall yesterday. She began by laying down the agenda for the meeting, stating that the summit had three primary objectives: to reiterate support for Ukraine, to renew commitments to human rights, and to take on challenging tasks around the world.

“Standing by our values,” Katrín summed up.

Katrín also struck a somewhat ominous tone following her preamble: “We are not gathered here to celebrate but in the shadow of war. Russia’s attack on Ukraine is the most serious attack on peace and security in Europe since World War II. In addition to massive casualties, it has led to bloodbaths, rapes, and murders of civilians.”

Katrín then addressed Ukrainians and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy: “We have enormous respect for your determination to fight back. We will continue to stand with you,” Katrín declared, prior to once again calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine as a “first step to end the war.”

“This senseless war on our continent goes against all the values ​​we united around when we founded this Council; it is a serious attack against the values ​​that make Europe something bigger than just a continent but a common cause.” On Monday, it was reported that Parliament had proposed a resolution to authorise the Foreign Minister to secure the purchase of a mobile emergency hospital for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy “takes the stage”

Following Katrín’s opening remarks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the audience remotely from Ukraine. He began by relating how Ukraine’s air defence system had intercepted 18 Russian missiles of various types – including types that have been deemed unstoppable – on the night after Monday.

Zelenskyy added that no one had died in the Russian airstrikes and referred to the air defence operation as a “historical result.” He then thanked European leaders for their part in strengthening the country’s air defence system. Zelenskyy also noted that the success of the night would not have been possible a year ago.

“Is there anything we can’t do?”

“If we are able to do this, is there anything we can’t do when we are united – and determined to protect lives? The answer is that we in unity will give 100% in any field when we have a rule to protect our people – and our Europe,” Zelenskyy observed.

Despite this historical result, the Ukrainian president admitted that much remained to be done, given the size of Ukraine’s territory. In order to make the success of the night a rule throughout the country, the country’s air defence system would need to be further improved. The president then called for missiles, fighter jets, and other weapons.

“100% should be our benchmark. We must give 0% to the aggressor. 100% of the success of defence operations is guaranteed by weapons and training of our soldiers, and I thank everyone who strengthens our defence,” Zelenskky remarked.

“Godfather of Icelandic Opera,” Garðar Cortes, Passes Away

Opera singer, Garðar Emanúel Cortes

Garðar Cortes, sometimes referred to as “the godfather of Icelandic opera,” passed away Sunday at the age of 82. Among other accomplishments, Garðar was instrumental in promoting and strengthening opera culture in Iceland.

“A giant of the Icelandic music scene”

On Sunday, May 14, Icelandic opera singer and promoter of Icelandic music Garðar Emanúel Cortes passed away. He was 82 years old. Eulogised as, “a giant of the Icelandic music scene“ by RÚV, Garðar was instrumental in the founding of the Icelandic Opera in 1980 and served as director of the Opera between 1979 and 1999.

“The Icelandic Opera was officially founded on October 3, 1980, at the initiative of Garðar Cortes. The goal was to give singers the opportunity to work on their art and to make the opera art form accessible to Icelandic audiences,” as noted on the website of the Icelandic Opera.

Besides founding the Icelandic Opera, Garðar also founded the Reykjavík Singing School (Söngskóli Reykjavíkur) where he served as the school’s principal for many years. He worked for decades as an opera singer, teacher, choir director, and conductor, performing in Iceland and abroad.

Garðar received an honorary award at the Iceland Performing Arts Awards in 2017 for his contribution to Icelandic performing arts and music. Garðar leaves behind four children and nine grandchildren. He is survived by his wife Krystyna Maria Blasiak Cortes.