Presidents and Speakers of Parliaments from the Council of Europe member states held a conference on the 15th and 16th of September in 2016 to discuss recent European challenges in the field of human rights, democracy and rule of law. Finland was represented by the Speaker of the Parliament Maria Lohela. The conference is held every other year with around 350 delegates which include Speakers and Presidents of Parliaments of the observer-, partner- and neighbouring countries.
The topics of the conference were about the refugee and immigration situation in Europe, the parliamentary campaign against hate speech and co-operation between the Council of Europe and national parliaments to promote the principles of democracy, human rights and rule of law. Maria Lohela emphasized the importance of the legitimacy of democratic institutions through open discussion and respect of different opinions. Lohela underlined the importance of opposition as a precondition to a functional democracy.