Presentation of the priorities of the Greek Chairmanship of the Council of Europe by Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis (12 May 2020)
In an online press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis presented the agenda and priorities of the Greek Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, which will focus on Human Rights in the pandemic era. Greece will assume the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe this Friday, 15 May 2020, and hold the office until 18 November 2020.
As Mr. Varvitsiotis stressed, “with the Chairmanship being dynamic and with the Council of Europe being a vibrant organization – and considering the dramatic impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on our daily lives – we realise this is the first time such wide-scale restrictions have been imposed in peacetime on human rights and fundamental freedoms, which made us reconsider the strategy and priorities of the Greek Chairmanship.” For this reason, he said, we chose as our central theme “the protection of human life and public health under the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic – Effective management of a health crisis while fully respecting human rights and the principles of democracy and the rule of law.”
The Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs highlighted that, as current conditions dictate, the Chairmanship will initially be digital in nature (E-Chairmanship), capitalizing on the potential of current technology to ensure interaction and lively debate with Civil Society, using social media.
There are additional themes on the Greek Chairmanship’s agenda, such as: Education and Democratic Culture in the digital age, children as vulnerable persons (children at risk of poverty, victims of violence, trafficking, forced labour, unaccompanied minors among refugees) and the right of the younger generations to enjoy cultural heritage unharmed by the impacts of climate change.
“We are here to carry out a large, free and open democratic dialogue. We are here to pose important questions that have to do with democratic institutions, the rule of law, human rights in a time of crisis – at a time when Europe, and not just the Council of Europe, but the European Union itself, is plagued by these questions,” Mr. Varvitsiotis stressed.
The main Event of the Chairmanship will be the 70th anniversary of the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights, on 4 November.