Greece and the Council of Europe

Greece joined the Council of Europe on 9 August 1949, just three months after the Organization was founded (5 May 1949). Since then, it has participated actively, responsibly and with vision in the work of the Council, on all levels – from the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly and from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities to a number of special Committees.

Our country maintains heightened relations with the Council of Europe and has received visits from the heads of all the Organization’s bodies – former Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, the Presidents of the Parliamentary Assembly, the European Court of Human Rights and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and the Commissioner for Human Rights.

The new Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, visited Greece on 27-30 October 2019. In the context of her stay in Greece, the Commissioner visited Lesbos, Samos and Corinth, and met with Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and the Alternate Minister for Migration, Giorgios Koumoutsakοs, as well as with Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.

Ahead of our country’s assumption of the presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis visited Council of Europe’s headquarters in Strasbourg on 9 March 2020 meeting with the new Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marij Pejcinovic Buric, the Director General for Democracy, Snežana Samardžić-Marković, and the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos.

Greece has an active presence in the institutional bodies of the Council of Europe

The Hellenic Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly, headed by MP Dora Bakoyannis, is composed of seven regular and seven substitute members.

In the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Greece is represented by seven representatives and seven substitutes, headed by the mayor of Mykonos, Konstantinos Koukas.

The Greek Judge sitting on the European Court of Human Rights, Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Athens, was elected President of the Court on 1 April 2019 and took up his duties on 5 May 2019, for a term ending on 17 May 2020. The newly elected President, Robert Spano (Iceland) takes office on 18 May 2020.

In the European Commission for Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission), an independent CoE body, our country is represented by Nicos Alivizatos, Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law.

On 1 April 2019, Maria-Andriani Kostopoulou was elected a member of the Group of Experts for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (GREVIO).

On December 2019, Maria Daniella Marouda, Assistant Professor of International Law at Panteion University and member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) since September 2015, was elected Chair of the ECRI for a two-year term, succeeding Stylianos Perrakis, Professor Emeritus of European and International Institutions at Panteion University, who assumed the duties of Permanent Representative of Greece to the Council of Europe.

Also of particular importance is our cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights, and we also collaborate constructively with the individual Bodies of the Council of Europe: the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). Representatives of these Bodies visit our country in the context of their mandate to monitor member states’ compliance with their obligations and commitments deriving from the relevant conventional and other acquis of the Council of Europe.

In 2019, on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the ECRI, at the Conference held in Paris under the French Presidency (May-November 2019), Greece was represented by its Minister of Justice, who made a relevant intervention.

On 26 February 2019, Greece ratified the 16th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows the highest courts of a State Party to request the European Court of Human Rights to give advisory opinions. The Protocol entered into effect on 1 August of the same year.

Moreover, on 6 September 2019, Greece signed the Protocol amending the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data.