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Presentation of the Priorities of the Hellenic Presidency by Permanent Representative

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Presentation of the Priorities of the Hellenic Presidency of the European Council  HOMS Meeting Geneva 14.01.14

Presentation of the Priorities of the Hellenic Presidency by Permanent Representative

I would like to start by congratulating warmly Rytis and the Lithuanian Mission for their successful and efficient Presidency in the EU during the second semester of 2013.

Greece is taking over, for the fifth time, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in a very crucial period for Europe and especially for some of its member states, hit by severe financial crisis with its subsequent social repercussions. Five months ahead of the European elections, we stress the need for a new narrative that is more attractive to European citizens, households and mostly the younger generation. In Geneva, the European Union needs to keep on promoting a clear message of democracy, rule of law and solidarity in parallel with economic growth and innovation. These principles are reflected in many of our priorities and have an immediate bearing on the work we have undertaken to accomplish here:

1. Growth and jobs, with a focus on alleviating unemployment – particularly among the young – and boosting job-creating investments in the real economy.

2. Security of our common borders, including integrated migration and mobility policies and initiatives for confronting illegal crossings, while safeguarding  fully human rights of migrants,  as well as for promoting growth-oriented mobility.

There is also a third, horizontal priority: the maritime -of global relevance- policy of the EU. Sea lanes are extremely important to trade, as 70 percent of all European goods are shipped to their market destinations. Our aim is to seek further global approaches to maritime issues including security and energy aspects.

A main priority for Greece is also a further deepening of the European and Euro-zone economic governance, which means working towards implementation of the agreement on the banking union and pursuing the European deposit guarantee scheme.  Although, in all fairness, I can give you no direct bearing of this priority on the Geneva-based organizations, I chose to mention it, since the overall Swiss environment most certainly permits it.  

Here in Geneva we are planning, in close cooperation with the EU Delegation and the Member States, to promote this platform, where applicable, and especially in relevant organizations and agencies, including UNCHR and the IOM, since migration issues constitute a key priority of our Presidency.      

In line with our Presidency’s motto ‘‘United we Sail Further’’, we intend to contribute as much as possible to the shaping of common EU positions to the widest possible extent. We intend to contribute as much as possible to the already excellent record of constructive participation of the EU in the work of the Human Rights Council. We plan to engage in common outreach efforts, including towards countries with which we do not share the same views and in areas of the wider human rights agenda. 

Our cultural and side events program reflects exactly those two priorities. Specifically, during the March HRC Session we have plans to invite Nelson Mandela’s lawyer and personal friend George Bizos, most probably in cooperation with the Mission of South Africa. We will also organize a photo exhibition under the title ‘‘Children’s right to smile’’ in support of the EU/GRULAC initiative on the Resolution on the rights of the child. We would hugely appreciate your support on both initiatives.

In June, in line with our EU Presidency Program on Sports aiming, among others, to the adoption of Council Conclusions on  Gender Equality in Sports and our previous engagement in this area in the Human Rights Council, we are planning  to  organize with the US and other Missions, an event with various athletes under the theme ‘‘Equality in Sports’’.    

In the area of humanitarian affairs, the Greek Presidency will focus on further strengthening coordination and synergies within the EU, in order to ensure that EU assistance is delivered efficiently. In addition we intend to further promote linkages between humanitarian and development assistance. We are convinced of the value of Geneva-based expertise in this regard and intend to contribute to its strengthening by utilizing the important input we get from various updates. This flow of information is indeed valuable in conveying coherent and updated EU messages.

Finally, as you might have seen from the staff list we have circulated along with the full Program of our Presidency last Friday, we have made a modest in cost but substantial in quality human resources investment to support the requirements of our Presidency in Geneva. Rest assured that myself and all the staff of the Greek Mission will spare no effort to cooperate closely and effectively with all of your Missions and the EU Delegation in order to obtain the best possible results with regard to the effective implementation of our common strategies and positions across the whole spectrum of Geneva based international organizations and UN agencies.    

Thank you

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