Message from the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis

Dear Friends,

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.

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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.

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Greek Chairmanship of the Council of Europe – Video presentation

Main event of the Greek Chairmanship (Temple of Olympian Zeus, 08.07.2020) – Highlights

Covid-19 Pandemic

The Greek Chairmanship considers that this unprecedented challenge for our European political culture and institutional tradition calls for the Council of Europe to place the matter at the front line of debate.

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Investing in the future – the rights of younger people

The Greek Chairmanship intends to highlight the need for all of us, citizens, democratic societies and member States, to concentrate on the younger generations, as they represent the future.

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Protecting cultural heritage from climate change and safeguarding the right of the younger generation to unhindered enjoyment of cultural heritage

In light of the relevant initiative taken by Greece and presented at the United Nations in September 2019, this unit focuses on raising youth awareness of the wealth represented by cultural heritage and the need to safeguard the right of young people to share this heritage with their fellow human beings and citizens, as well as on the duty of each generation to pass this heritage on to the next generation unharmed by the impacts of climate change.

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Children as a vulnerable group

We all have a duty to protect children from any danger. Especially in cases of vulnerability, such as children at risk of poverty or as victims of violence or trafficking, labour or other form of exploitation. Children are the first priority in the planet’s battle to protect human life against Covid-19.

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Due to the current conditions of emergency, the Greek Chairmanship of the Council of Europe will operate mainly digitally. It will be essentially an E-Chairmanship.

The majority of the Chairmanship’s events will be held via teleconferencing and live streaming. The digital platform of the Greek Chairmanship will serve as a point of reference.

Our goal is not only to protect the human life and the public health, but also to bring the Council of Europe closer to people, especially the younger ones.

The Digital Chairmanship (E-Chairmanship) will transmit events and activities of the Council of Europe through new technologies.

The E-Chairmanship is not just a solution in the conditions of the current health crisis. It is also our evident obligation towards technological challenges, which often facilitate and enhance access to information and knowledge.

After all, digital reality is an integral part of our daily lives, determining our social behavior and habits.