Message from the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis
I welcome you to the official website of the Greek Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
A website that aims to provide information on matters concerning our country’s Chairmanship of an organization that, since its founding in 1949, has been the preeminent guardian of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe.
Apart from promoting the events and events the Greek Chairmanship will be organizing during its six-month term, from May to November 2020, the Chairmanship website will be a digital forum for dialogue and interactive communication through the special E-Chairmanship platform.
Bearing in mind the new restrictions on human contact and communication imposed by the pandemic, and with respect for the great effort to protect the highest good of human life, the Greek Chairmanship created the necessary infrastructure to enable us to carry out a large portion of our events via digital technologies.
Through the E-Chairmanship platform, the Greek Chairmanship wants to bring the Council of Europe closer to citizens.
It is a fact that Greece is assuming the Chairmanship of this very important organization at a critical time and under very difficult circumstances. The challenges the whole world is facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and mainly the threat this pandemic poses to human life and public health, are of the highest priority for everyone: for governments, for those in positions of responsibility, for society as a whole, and for each one of us individually as responsible citizens.
At the same time, the pandemic crisis and the global effort to respond to it have raised unprecedented issues for all democratic societies. The restrictions that have been imposed on the exercise of fundamental freedoms, such as the rights to free movement, assembly, religious belief or professional activity, touch the core of our democratic traditions and the European way of life.
So in this sense, besides threatening human life, the Covid-19 pandemic poses a threat to the unhindered enjoyment of human rights as we know them, safeguard them and promote them in Europe and in the world.
As the oldest political organization in Europe, the Council of Europe – whose mission is to safeguard and promote the fundamental principles and values of freedom, democracy, equality, justice, human dignity and the rule of law – has already played a decisive role in keeping its member states and European societies focused on these challenges.
During our Chairmanship, we will have the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the principles and values underlying the work of the Council of Europe, within the limits imposed by the unprecedented conditions of the pandemic.
At the same time, we will have the opportunity to lead the effort towards renewal of our collective commitment to the vision of further consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights on our continent, confirming and even further strengthening the Council of Europe’s role as guardian of these principles and values.
We believe that the young people of Europe have a key place in this vision. We have to focus our efforts on the younger generations to achieve a better tomorrow, because the future belongs to them.
The Greek Chairmanship will send the message that we must see the world through their eyes. We must focus even more on their problems and concerns, especially in the new environment being created by the pandemic, but also beyond that.
From child poverty and exploitation of any kind, unacceptable bullying in school environments and the risks inherent in the use of digital technologies to the social integration of vulnerable groups of young people, such as unaccompanied refugee/migrant minors, Roma, and young people with special skills.
Europe’s youth have every right to be proud of their cultural heritage, which is vital to the historical continuity, identity and self-identification of every society. We must respect and guarantee this right.
So, with the focus on young people and sectors critical to them, such as education, democratic culture in the digital age, and social rights, the Greek Chairmanship hopes to promote the principles and values that pervade the work of the Council of Europe and that constitute the foundation of our political and legal culture.
Principles and values that are both timely and timeless, as they underpin our very civilization and take on even greater importance in the midst of the current crisis – and this is why they concern all of us.
The pandemic crisis comes as an urgent reminder that we have to face major challenges together, because major challenges demand a collective response.
I hope this website helps to keep people informed and serves as a useful guide for citizens who are interested in the many important issues that will be the subject of the proceedings and dialogue in the Council of Europe during the Greek Chairmanship.
Miltiadis I. Varvitsiotis
Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs
Organization for defending human rights on the European continent
The Council of Europe is the most prominent organization for protecting human rights on the European continent. Founded on 5 May 1949, it now has 47 member states in Europe and in Europe’s eastern periphery. Its headquarters are in Strasbourg, France.
The fundamental values represented by the Council of Europe are protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
It has played a decisive role in the struggle for abolition of the death penalty, prohibition of discrimination, freedom of expression, gender equality and protection of minorities.Read more