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Home arrow newsitems arrow Inc. CoE Chair Greek Minister Varvitsiotis: NEW Dynamic AGENDA: Virus v. Human Rights+Digital Dialog

Inc. CoE Chair Greek Minister Varvitsiotis: NEW Dynamic AGENDA: Virus v. Human Rights+Digital Dialog

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 12 May 2020


*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- Dynamically Changing the initially Scheduled Focus of its InComing CoE's Presidency of May-November 2020 towards the "Hotest" Topical Issue of the Fight against the Deadly Virus' Pandemics and Human Rights, Greece also aims to decisively Develop its Pioneer Contribution, since the Beginning of the World Wide Web, 23 Years Earlier, during its Previous CoE Chairmanship of 1998, when a landmark Ministerial Conference had been organized on People's Access to Modern Tele-Communication Networks, then at Thessaloniki, (See + Interview of CoE's competent Officer, Philippe POIREL, Now CoE Director on Human Rights, to "Eurofora"'s co-Founder, Published at "MPA" Agency at that Historic Event), towards a Fully-fledged use of the Latest "Digital" Tools at the Internet Nowadays, on 2020, in order to Tackle the notorious Problems provoked against Physical Collective Meetings by the Virus, by Linking the PanEuropean Space of CoE's 47 Member-States, (with about 850 Millions Citizens) through the Internet, while, on this Occasion, Boosting, in addition, Modern Tools for "Dialogue" with Civil Society and Citizens, where it's Welcoming Cooperations with relevant Web Actors, (along the lines of "Eurofora"s +1997-2020+ Project, recently nick-named as "4D", for "Digital Dialogue in Modern Democratic Decision-Making" : Inter alia, See also: ..., etc).

This was officially Announced to the Press Today by the Experienced Greek Alternate Minister for European Affairs, former Long-Time MEP at CoE's Assembly and vice-President of its Biggest Group of ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Miltiades VARVITSIOTIS, (Comp. various and numerous Varvitsiotis' Statements to "Eurofora"s co-Founder, Published either on "MPA", "TCWeekly", or at "Eurofora", f.ex. in Brussels: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/futurecoechairgreekministervarvitsiotisstrengthenvoice.html, Strasbourg: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/austrianeupresidencyonfrontexinaegean.html + http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/ministeroncoepresidencyandturkey.html, etc),

who Revealed also Other interesting "Bridges" between the Long History of the Oldest European Organisation, the CoE, and Important Topical Issues, transpercing Decades of Time, and, by another Coincidence, inter-Linking anew the Previous, 1998, to the InComing, 2020, CoE's Presidencies :

Indeed, Then, another important Focus notoriously was the Most Crucial ever Reform of ECHR, also by opening Direct Appiications of Citizens to EuroJudges, (practically Stimulated by the 1989 "Fall of Berlin Wall" and the related "Re-Unification of "Europe", through CoE's spectacular Enlargement, including even by Russia's Accession meanwhile, etc), while Now, the incoming Greek CoE's Presidency of 2020, aims to Stress the celebrations of the 70th Anniversary since the Historic Signature of the European Convention on Human Rights, by a Series of Ministerial, Parliamentary, and Experts' Meetings and Events, particularly on Autumn 2020 in Athens, including via the preparation of a Landmark Draft "Declaration" of CoE's Highest Political body : its Committee of Foreign Ministers, on "ReNewing", Adapting and Boosting its 47 Member States' Commitment to Human Rights Nowadays and in the Foreseable Future, Both in order to Fight the Deadly Virus Nowadays, and/or Other such Emergencies or Crisis, as well as in order to Efficiently Face Various Other New Challenges.

 On this occasion, VARVITSIOTIS also Presented in more Detail the New, Re-Formulated, Draft official "Program" of the incoming CoE's Greek Presidency for the Period of May-November 2020, (Comp. Supra), and Discussed a Large Spectrum of Various Other Topical CoE's Issues, including even Several related "Hot" Foreign Policy developments of Nowadays, (See Infra).

+This was partly but usefully Completed, Later this Evening in Strasbourg, also by subsequent, Interesting Press Statements in Reply to "Eurofora"s Questions by the New Ambasador/Permanent Representative of Greece to the CoE, Panayiotis BEGLITIS, who is due to assume the responsibility of CoE's New Chairman-in-office here, During mid May-November 2020. Interestingly, he's also due to practically Cooperate, in Parallel, also with his Collegue and Predecessor, former Greek Ambassador/PR to the CoE, University Professor Stelios PERRAKIS, who was, Meanwhile, appointed to the Presidency of the Task-Force Coordinating this CoE's incoming Presidency, at the competent Foreign Ministry in Athens, (Comp. various, brief but topical, Ambassador Perrakis' Statements to "Eurofora"+, f.ex. at: ..., etc).


VARVITSIOTIS Started his Presentation by expressing regrets for the UnPrecedented Obstacles to Physical Collective Meetings, Nowadays, because of the Deadly Virus' Crisis, which will Oblige him (as well as his Georgitan counterpart) to be exceptionaly Absent from the Forthcoming CoE's Committee of Ministers' Session, next Friday, May 15 in Strasbourg, when  Greece will Take over CoE's rotating Presidency from Georgia, for the Period of May - November 2020, (before Tranfering it, Later, on November 18, to Germany).

- I was looking forward, and would really Like very much, to meet in Strasbourg as many as possible from my counterparts (Ministers competent for the COE), Ambassadors/Permanent Representatives, as well as Many important Top Officials of the CoE, where I have worked for Many Years, particularly in its PanEuropean Parliamentary Assembly, he pointed out.

- But, Suddenly, a few Months ago, this became practicaly, Impossible, because of the Virus' Crisis, and Even Georgia was Obliged to Renounce to an Initialy Planned CoE's Ministerial Summit, for this week, at its Capital-City : Tbilisi ! So that, Now, this will be done just by Video-Conference, which is not the same thing... However, the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos MITSOTAKIS, will make an official Address to the CoE, by Video, he announced.

"Eurofora" saw all the relevant CoE's successive Decisions, which Initially had Chosen indeed, to prepare a full Foreign Ministerial Summit at Tbilisi, Afterwards brought it Back to Strasbourg, (Always for May 15), and Later-on Transfered it to Athens, for November... (See also Infra).

So that "it will be, practically, just me, and my Collegue, the Georgian Ambassador/PR", HIrakli GIVIASHVILI, told "Eurofora" later, on Friday, in Strasbourg the Greek Ambassador/Pr Panayiotis BEGLITIS. "We" (CoE's Committee of Ministers/Deputies) "have Already started to use mainly Video-Conferences at the COE since Months, and it works, even if it's not like a real physical collective meeting", he regretted.

Curiously, however, Nobody Mentioned the Fact that, in the MeanTime, the Host Country : France, (as well as, mutatis-mutandis, some Other European Countries, even somewhat Earlier) has just Started a progressive "DeConfinement" process, by a Coincidence Exactly this week, Opening from the Previous "Lock-Down", Already since Yesterday, Monday of May 11..., (as the French President Emmanuel MACRON had Previously Announced, since Mid-April). Apparently, this was Not considered as Sufficient yet, for the purposes of the CoE.


VARVITSIOTIS went on to make a Brief Presentation of the CoE, Focused mainly on Human Rights, and the Oldest European Organisation, established since 1949, in Reaction to the 2nd World War Destructions, with its HeadQuarters in Strasbourg, a City which had ...Changed 4 or 5 Times its Flag, between the French and the German (sic !), Chosen as a Symbol for European ReConciliation, Stability, Peace and Integration.

Greece joined the CoE already since 1949, but Between 1969-1974 it was Pushed Out, because the Chunta of the Colonels (1967+) did Not meet the Basic Requirements of Democracy, he reminded, (See also Infra).

However, the CoE was "Considerably EnLarged" from the 1980ies, with the Accessions of all Central-Eastern European Countries even up to the Caucasus, But Russia, Later-on, was Absent from CoE's Parliamentary Assembly during 5 Years (2014-2019), something which provoked also Budgetary Problems, Solved Last Year.

Nowadays CoE may appear too Old, but, in fact, it has developed Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law Basic Principles, which are always important and Topical, he stressed. Thus, on November 4, 2020 (probably in Athens), we shall celebrate the 70th Anniversary since the Signature of the PanEuropean Convention on Human Rights, hopefully Together with an Important New Declaration of its 47 Member Countries, he pointed out, (See also Infra).


    Concerning the Spectacular, UnExpected, Last-Minute Change of the Greek COE Presidency's Program (Comp. Supra), VARVITSIOTIS reminded that, Initially, a Draft Program had been Focused on "the New Generation", for more Involvement in Democracy and better Protection of  Human Rights, (See, f.ex., the Greek Minister's relevant Statements to "Eurofora", then, during his 1st Official Visit and Top Meetings at the CoE, with that Initial Draft Plan, at the Beginning of March : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/ministeroncoepresidencyandturkey.html). *

    But the unforseen Big Events of the Last 3 Months, around the Virus' Pandemic, (particularly in Europe), made it Preferable to Focus, rather, on the Measures for Protection of Human Health and Lives against that Deadly Virus, ensuring their conformity with basic Principles of Human Rights and Democracy, he pointed out.

    => On these Key Points, we (the incoming Greek Presidency of the CoE) intend to boost an "Open Dialogue", with All Scientists, Medias, Countries, etc, on how to take adequate Measures respecting Human Rights, and on which Conditions, etc, the incoming CoE's President-in-office promised, (something, obviously, very Important, also for "Eurofora"s Project).

    - This wasN't just a Choice of the Greek Presidency alone, But Also Emerging from the CoE itself, he Observed : F.ex., CoE's new Secretary General, Marija PEJCINOVIC-BURIC, has just Published, a few Weeks ago, a "Toolkit" on how to Forge Health-Protection Measures respecting Human Rights, he observed. So that, when we First Announced that Intention of the incoming Greek Presidency of the CoE to maje such Big Changes in our Draft Program, soon, there were several "Positive Comments", and a lot were even "Enthousiast", VARVITSIOTIS noted...

    - Of course, at the same time, we did Not want to Abandon All the Work which had been Made, meanwhile, on our Initial Program, and we also Faced some Difficulties to Rapidly Mobilise all relevant Actors during the Recent Months, given the Current, well-Known Problems on Contacting and Communicating with People, Working from Home, etc., he observed.

    => So, this is going to be, in fact, "a Dynamic Presidency" of the COE, "due to Evolve" Further, and "Hoping to Involve, at the End, as Many Key Actors as possible", the competent Greek Minister characteristically Highlighted.

    + In addition, "we have Decided that this will be an "e-Chairmanship", i.e. very much based on Digital Technologies, and, particularly during its 1st Part, i.e. Until about September, also on "Video-Conferences". We have Prepared relevant InfraStructures, facilitating a "large Participation", and we are even Inciting all those who wish to Organize relevant "Web Events", to go on, he Invited.


    - On the Substance, we do Not Intend to Limit this CoE's Presidency Only to the Virus "COVID-19", But Also to Deal with all Other CoE-relevant Issues Prepared, and Keep Developing them, as for Young People, (that we had nick-named : the "e-Geneation"). F.ex. :

- Education, including "e-Culture" in the "Digital Era",  (for which there are many Discussions currently).

- Democracy via "e-Means", (i.e. apparently very Near to "Eurofora"'s 1997-2020 Project, including a more Recent Version, that we briefly Presented on 2019/2020 both at the COE and Strasbourg City, nick-named "4D" for "Digital Dialogue in Modern Democratic Decision-Making").

- Elections (including in relation to Pandemics).

- Children, (particularly as Vulnerable Persons Needing Protection, fex. against Abuse, Trafficking, UnAccompagnied Minors : a Problem notoriously met in recent Mass Asylum Seekers - Irregular Migrants' movements, mainly through Turkey towards EU's External Borders in Greece, etc).

 -  Cultural Heritage, (mainly as a Right, especially for Young People, to See and Visit Monuments in Europe and the World, unaltered. Also in relation with an Initiative of the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos MITSOTAKIS, at the UNO, to Protect Historic/Cultural Monuments from Climate Change, etc).

 - The European "Social Charter" and "Vulnerable" Persons, (including Violence, Women, Handicaped People, etc).

 + More generaly, "we Want to seize the Opportunities offered by this <<New Era>> of e-Contacts' Technologies, in order to Boost Participation to Lively Dialogue in the Web, Even from Home", VARVITSIOTIS interestingly added.


+ Explaining, furthermore, the Meaning of the "LOGO" Chosen by the 2020 Greek Presidency of the CoE, he said that it had been Crafted, after a Competition, by the University of Western Attica Region in an Original way, and Symbolized mainly Greece, Europe, and "the Human person", by the Sun at its Center, as he stressed, Smiling...


 - The "Basic Event" of this CoE's 2020 Presidency is Scheduled to be the Meeting of the PanEuropean Organisation's Top Political Body : its Committee of Ministers, including Ambassadors/Permanent Representatives, and All the Leading Officials, on November 4, in Athens, he announced, (Comp. also Supra).

On this occasion, "We (i.e. CoE's 47 Member States' representatives) Wish to Renew our Trust to the ECHR, and issue a Declaration, currently under Preparation, together with CoE's Secretariat, on "Restrictions of Human Rights in periods of Pandemics", that we believe will be Important, (both now and in the Future), Varvitsiotis stressed.


+ Meanwhile, among the various Other Important Events of the 2020 Greek Presidency of the CoE, is, at First, Scheduled, at the Beginning of June, a Big "Internet Debate", with the Participation of All COE's Top Officials : Its Secretary General, the PanEuropean Commissioner on Human Rights, the incoming and outgoing Presidents of ECHR, the Heads of CoE's Parliamentary Assembly (where iI have served for more than 15 Years), CLRAE and INGOS, as well as the Chiefs of "Venice Commission" (on Constitutional Law), Lanzarote Convention (on Children Protection from Abuse), and ECRI (against Racism and Discrimination).

 - During this 1st Part of our Presidency we'd like also to have some Internet Discussions with Interesting Personalities, who have Expressed certain Controversial Ideas, which stired "Hot" Dialogue during this Crisis, and Invite Top Intellectuals, University Experts, etc, in order to Deal with Topical Issues related to this 2020 COE's Presidency, he added.

- Concerning Specialized Ministers' CoE's Conferences, we shall organize at least 2 :

* One of Justice Ministers, on the Independence of Judges and Rule of Law, (around September or October);

* and anOther for Education Ministers, in order to Create an "Observatory on History", to Monitor the way that History is Studied and Tought : This would be particularly useful in regions of the World as ours, which are said to ..."produce More History than they can Consume" (sic !). It might help to set the record straight, and find some ways to solve issues with certain from our neighbours..., he speculated.


>>>Finaly, making a special Address to the Press and Medias, the incoming CoE's President-in-office  stressed that "we are here in order to make a great Democratic Dialogue".

+ To Raise "Hot" Issues on Democratic Institutions, Rule of Law, and Human Rights, in a Period of Crisis, which occupies all Europe nowadays, not just the CoE, but Also the EU, currently involved into sttiving to Find its way on Rule of Law, as you know, he added.


For the rest, Varvitsiotis replied to various Questions on particular Issues, including, f.ex., that of CoE's Communication Policy, Refugees, Data Protection, Measures against Violations of Human Rights, China, Turkey, Minorities, Cooperation with Medias and Dialogue with Civil Society, Social Rights, etc.


- On the well-known, "traditional" issue of CoE's Communication Policy, and whether there will be made an Effort to Better Explain to the People the Institution of the CoE, he said that, in fact, this would be a Constant Preoccupation, practically During All the Period of the 2020 Greek Presidency of Strasbourg's Organisation, particularly since it takes place at a moment of Serious Crisis.

Inter alia, it's also from the 1st planned Event, that of "Dialogue" with All CoE's Bodies, via the Internet, at the Beginning of June (Comp. Supra), a "First" in CoE's History, since Nowadays Digital Means allow to practically Find Together All CoE's Top Officials, something which appeared Traditionaly Impossible, with old-fashioned Physical Contacts, should Interest a lot of various People, simple Citizens, Students, Lawyers, Civil Servants, Medias, Experts, Scientists, NGOs, Politicians, etc.


- Concerning Refugee and Migration Policy, where CoE's Commissioner on Human Rights has made some Critical Observations recently, f.ex. on certain Leislative Draft Bills, he Acknowledged that Greece has, indeed, Often been Scrutinized and sometimes Criticized at the CoE on such issues, (including even by a CoE Assembly's Report that he had drafted himself, back on 2017, as CoE's Rapporteur, as well as, more Recently, on 2018-2019, when he had met with CoE's Commisioner during her Visit)...

 - We don't sweep under the carpet our problems, we know where we have some weaknesses, and are Trying to Find Solutions, he promised. But, at ay case, it's also a Fact that we have Not been Criticized during the Last 2 Months, for the Measures that we have taken Both in Evros River (at the Terrestrial Borders to Turkey, where a notorious Mass Provocation and Harassment, Open Group Attempts to Tresspass accross the External EU Borders, etc. See, f.ex. at: ..., etc), as well as in the Aegean Sea Islands, he observed.

Obviously, during this Period of Virus' Crisis, there are Also certain Measures which have to be taken, and we are all involved, in one way or another. Moreover, Greece tries to Promote certain Migration Issues, including, f.ex., that of UnAccompanied Minors, etc., where a European Solidarity is Needed, considering also the Fact that the Resources of our Country have been Exhausted. We are currently in the process of trying, Together with our Interlocutors in Europe, to Find some Solutions, he pointed out.


Concerning the Issues of Privacy and personal Data Protection, particularly since the Currently obligatory use of Digital Technologies reportedly raises some alleged problems, Varvitsiotis agreed that this was an Important Question, and promised to ask from the competent Ministry of Digital affairs to prepare something on that Topical matter, because in its Initial proposals, it had not included that point, at least, until now.   


On querries about creation of TV Programs on the 2020 Greek CoE Presidency, he revealed that he had already asked to prepare, f.ex., a Video Film on the Historic 1969-1974 Period when the former Regime of the Colonels' Chunta in Greece had been Pushed Out of the CoE, for Lack of Basic Democratic principles, under the Pressure of Philelenist, Greek-Friendly Countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands, etc., as well as by various other Friends of the Greek People and Human Rights :

- This was a very Important and Good Moment for Europe, because it has shown that the CoE can really Act for Democracy, Varvitsiotis stressed. For the rest, he offered to cooperate with eventually interested Radio-TV Medias, for the creation, thanks also to the new Potential of Digital Tools, of relevant Projects of co-production.


Questioned whether there is any Investigation, currently, by the CoE on eventualy undue Human Rights Restictions in certain Countries, under pretext of the Virus' Crisis, the Experienced former Long-Time MEP pointed at CoE's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), and particularly at its "Monitoring" Committee, competent for Checking the situation in All Member States. Eventual Denonciations would go First to the PACE, and only comme to the Committee of Ministers Afterwards, at a Later Stage, he explained. Already, Complaints versus f.ex. Hungary have been notoriously made, and there might be also others, mutatis-mutandis. What We (i.e. the Greek 2020 Presidency of the  CoE) are Trying to do is to Prepare the Strongest possible Resolution for the Protection of Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law in times of Crisis, (in view of the Foreign Ministerial Meeting, scheduled for November 4 in Athens : Comp. Supra). In order to Achieve that, a lot of Diplomatic skills and efforts are required in Strasbourg, particularly as some Countries might Feel "Targetted", I Hope that we shall manage to have a Good Resolution for Human Rights in Times of Crisis, Based on a Common Ground.


- Considering the Fact that a succesful Fight against the Virus' Pandemic Needs, Nowadays, good International Cooperation, do you think that China and the CoE would come Closer ?, the incoming CoE's Chairman-in-office was also asked.

- China has Not yet Direct Links to the CoE, Contrary to some Other, Non-European Countries, as, f.ex. Morocco, which has Signed a Deal for a Special Status as Observer, as well as Canada, mutatis-mutandis, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, etc., he noted. It's however true that Greece has Friendly Relations with China. Inter alia, I was, f.ex., present, together with almost Half of the Government and the Chinese Ambassador, recently at Athens' Airport when we received a batch of Health Protection Equipment against the Virus, as Humanitarian Help from China. While, also, we dealt with the Prolongation of Visas needed by Chinese Students Blocked here by the Virus' Crisis. In general, Greece  wants to have Good and poductive relations with China. However, I don't think that China links might interest the 47 Member Countries of the CoE, he concluded, (at least for the time being),             

But "Eurofora" is obliged, here, to observe the Fact that, Despite Varvitsiotis extensive Experience in CoE's Parliamentary Assembly, nevertheless, his Assistants don't seem to have well Informed him on what has really happened from the inter-Governemental side : Indeed, China, which has established a Big Consulate in Strasboug, Near the CoE, has Already had several working Contacts with the PanEuropean Organisation, f.ex., on Young People, Education and Sport, including Anti-Doping, is Regularly Invited by CLRAE in its Sessions, and has also Accepted Invitations, Recently, to CoE's Anti-"Cyber-Crime" Watchdog, based on the Budapest Convention, which is Open for Signatureto to All Countries in the World, as well as several Other CoE's Conventions. Moreover, the former President of CoE's Assembly, French MEP Jean-Claude Mignon, (a Christian-Democrat/EPP, as Varvitsiotis, and Gaullist), has formaly Asked to give China a special Status inside the CoE... Already, USA, Canada, even ...Mexico and Japan, etc. have such an Observer Status at the CoE. But China currently is the Only UN SC Permanent Member which has Not Yet any Status at the CoE ! However, Europe, and particularly the COE itself, as well as Strasbourg, would certainly be reinforced, as Diplomatic Stongholds, if ALL the 5 UNSC Permanent Members had a Top Diplomat here: Then, it could become posible, inter alia, to Boost a CoE - UNO Cooperation from Strasbourg, able to Deal, at any moment, also with "Hot" Issues as, f.ex., Cyprus, Ukraine, but even Middle East, Syria, Libya, etc !         

In such a case, f.ex., Scandals as that of Turkey's Blockade of a Chinese Airplane travelling towards Cyprus for a Humanitarian delivery of Human Life-Saving equipments against the Deadly Virus, this week, could Not happen with Total Impunity... [Partially UPDATED].

>>> Last, but not least, Nowadays, when a Global Ban of Dangerous "Heritable Gene-Editing", Threatens all Humankind, already Since November 2019 (See: .., etc), it's obviously a "Must" to try to associate China in CoE's BioEthical "Oviedo" Treaty, which OutLaws any Genetic Manipulation aiming to Alter the Human GermLine, (and is also Open for Signature by Any Country in the World).

It's, indeed, an Astonishing Fact that the Chinese Authorities had just Announced, on December 30, 2019, (with a Strong Bio-Ethical Motivation) a severe Punishment for a Maverick Chinese petty Technocrat, linked, Educated, Funded, Directed, Publicized and Backed by a US Big Technocratic Lobby related to Former POTUS Barack Hussein Obama (a "Socialist/Liberal"), notoriously for having Secretly Manipulated Genetically 3 Human Embryos, in a way Transmissible to all Future Generations, proceeding Afterwards to their Artificial Births, When, Suddenly, exactly the NEXT DAY, (December 31, 2019), Immediately came the Horrible News of that Deadly Virus' outbreak in Wuhan ! (See : ..., etc)



- On the recent "Instrumentalisation" of the Mass Asylum Seekers/Irregular Migrants Problem by Turkey, f.ex. in Evros River EU's External Borders, there are informations that it Will be Repeated. How could European Solidarity be expressed also through the CoE, and/or incite it to Help Stop such aggressions, was further asked Varvitsiotis.                    

- "This is a very "Hot" Issue", he stressed from the outset. On EU level it has been promoted with all available ways. The Most Characteristic is the on the spot Presence of All the EU Leadership (EU Commission, Council and Parliament's Presidents, Von der Leyen, Michel and Sassoli), at the EU External Borders on Evros, (Together with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis),... an UnPrecedented Move of European Solidarity. I don't think that the EU ever send a so Strong Message of Solidarity, in any other event or crisis, in the Past", he appreciated.

- It's true that, in the context of the CoE, which usually deals with Human Rights, such events should be examined by a Report of the (CoE Assembly's) Migration Committee, and I think that Mrs Bakoyani (MEP and former Foreign Minister) and other MEPs will Move in this Direction".

- But this will be done only "When PACE will Re-Open - Because, UnFortunately, Both its Sessions of April and June (2020) have been Postponed : an UnPrecedented incident, which has "Freezed" the situation ! They (PACE) did Not advance with Video-Conferences,  and this has very much Delayed Everything, including the Possibility to Deal with such Topical Issues"...

- However, we (the incoming Greek Presidency of the CoE) do Not want to push the CoE to Focus and Deal Only or Mainly with Migration Issues. Not because we are not Preoccupied by those events. Neither because we might think impossible to Develop such Issues in the CoE. But, in fact, Because we Beiieve that our Country must Enter also in Other kind of Debates, Instead of Monopolizing, during about 10 Years, the Front-Pages of World's Medias only for its Monetary or Migration Crisis !"


- On the Contrary, "we want to show the Potential of Greece as a Mature and Strong Democracy, able to export (share) even Leadership in several things, as it is revealed even in the case of the Virus, where More People than in the Past Hear what we have to say", (indirect Reference to the Country's susprizing Better than expected resistance to coronavirus). In fact, "we Want to enter anOther Agenda !"                 


Simply Because "the Helleno-centric view of International issues, is substantial, But does Not Help always to Develop Issues, and/or Open Communication Links (Routes) with More Players, around us".

"That's why we have Chosen to develop Wider problematics, and, naturally, I Believe that the Issue that we have Chosen, is an Issue which, Nowadays, has a Central Interest, Also for CoE's own functioning",

("which has been, several times, scorned by some Analysts, who claim that it would no more offer what it had initially promised")...


Questioned whether CoE's presidency might evetualy help alleviate problems (of Rule of Law) concerning Turkey,

+ and invited to Comment on a Turkish MFA's statement, issued just After the 5-sides MAF Summit of Yesterday (Greece, France, Cyprus, Egypt, UAE), about a so-called "Hypocrisy" of Greece, accused by Turkey to "Aim at a regional Chaos" (sic !)...

 - "I don't think that, Today, anyone might Accuse Greece to provoke Chaos" (sic !).

- In Fact, "it's Others" (i.e. Turkey) "who play games with Gun Boats in the Mediterranean",

"and, with Provocative Acts Perturbate (Trouble) the regional Stability".

- "It's certainly Not the Diplomatic moves which might provoke Upheavals".

- "But, the Violations of National Sovereignity, (f.ex. by Over-Flights, illegal Drillings, etc. at anOther Country's area) is something which could lead to very Difficult Situations", he Warned.


  - "Now, concerning the promotion of National Priorities, as I've already said, the National Priorities are always in the Framework of Foreign Policy-making".     

 -°And the take-over of an International Organisation's Presidency, should not be seen Only (just) as a way to boost National Priorities, Because, in fine, we'd Risk to Lose the Meaning (Substance) of a Presidency"

"Such a Presidency is to Focus on - and Promote an Organisation, and, through such a Mobilisation of Forces, you can obtain More Interlocutors".

- "That's why we have Focused on this Direction".

- In fact, "we have the chance, we have the Voice, the People, the Knowledge, and the Possibilities, also as a (simple) Member of the Organisation, to promote our National Issues, at all levels, all Committees, all Bodies", he ensured.

"Even in many CoE's Committees' leadership, often serve some able Greeks".

Thus, f.ex., inter alia, we use Venice Committee's work in order to Defend the Rights (of Property, Religion, etc) also of the Greek Minority in Albania", "during EU Negotiations", etc, he pointed out.


"But, a Presidency aims to Promote an Organisation, and show the capacity of a Country to acquire wider interlocutors, on those Agenda Issues of Burning importance,

as well as the Maturity of Greek Democracy, of the Greek Political System, the Public Administration, the Greek Institutions are able to produce forms of Leadership also vis a vis (for/useful to) Other European Countries".

- "F.ex., during a recent Video-Conference with EU Ambassadors, from Athens, 2 or 3 Weeks ago, the Italian Ambassador, speaking in front all his collegues, said that "Now it's the Moment of Greece : Greece has Suffered, during all these Years, (but) it has gone Out of this process as exceptionaly more Mature, the way it dealt with the CoronaVirus showed that it's extremely Efficient, Despite Limited Means, and we expect from Greece to express and declare its Presence in the Framework of European Leadership".

=> "It's these opportunities that we try to upgrade,

 by raising such Issues, which can gather much Wider Audiences than we imagine,

by trying, precisely, to promote the role that Greece can play, through the Sacrifices, the Pains, but also, finaly, the Wisdom that we obtained via all that we have faced during these last yeats, and promoted (showed) the Greek People".

- "We are a Country which has a tremendous Political Stability, has proven its attachment to the European Dream, and has shown that it can serve even some very Dificult Decisions, as, f.ex., those Recent Decisions for our Timely Confinement, and the way that we observed that".

=> So, "I think that we must Not Miss that Opportunity", "and show that we have, also, at a level of Policy-making, at a level of Ideology, at a level of Principles, such Arms, which can be Valorized also at a European level".

In other Words : Let's show what we can do by Working for the General European Interest !


+ Concerning a Question on the Controvesial Issue of "Cameras" inside Schools, during the Virus' Pandemic, which reportedly provoked various Reactions, Varvitsiotes replied that :

- "This is an Issue that, precisely, will be Discussed in the context of our (CoE's) Presidency, which shows how Timely it is !"

  - Indeed, "this Presidency is Not about Embelishing things ! Precisely, we Must Examine such Dillemas, which, without a doubt, generate some Problematics", as he Acknowledged.

- Personaly, "I think that the Way that such Decisions are taken nowadays, fulfill all the Conditions of Democratic Legitimacy, and all the Conditions of that Bi-Polarity (Balance) that we want to Discuss and Solce, between Human Rights/Democracy/Rule of Law, from one side, and Protection of Public Health in a Pandemic, from another side".

=> - So that, precisely, "this Bi-Polar Balance, which shows the Problematic, is what Must be Discussed", Varvitsiotis clearly pointed out.

- "However, exactly because this Decision of the Education Ministry, has generated such Problematics, (already in Greece), you can imagine how Topical is going to be the equivalent (PanEuropean) Discussion which will be made in the framework of the CoE and our Presidency, on that Issue !", he smiled...              

    -"I am convinced, however, that, precisely, because we have Studied very much, Both the CoE SG's "Toolkit" (Comp. Supra), and the Way which could Legitimize these Decisions", f.ex. "through a Democratic Process, But Also the Right for a Choice, by every Student, to Participate, or Not, at First Sight, I think that all the Conditions that may be put by the ECHR, seem Fulfilled".

    - "But, at any case, I also think that this will be one of the very Interesting, indeed, Issues, with which will Deal this (CoE 2020) Presidency".


    - Ending with a Question on "Pandemics' Impact over Social Rights" Varvitsiotis said that he has, indeed, "requested from the Ministry of Employment to take som positions in relation with (CoE's) Social Charter".

    - "But what we are certainly going to do, at any case, is to Deal also with Issues related to the Protection of Minorities", as "Roma", etc. Meanwhile, the competent Ministry has also proposed certain actions concerning "Gender Ewuality", "Poor Children", "Forced Work", and "children Trafficking", "unacompagnied minors", etc.

    + "However, Now that the Economic Crisis knocks anew at Europe's Door", as he characteristicaly stressed, (See also Infra), "and High Levels of UnEmployment are Foreseen, at least for 2020", "we shall Ask for More !", he promised.


    - Concluding, in Fine, Varvitsiotis explained that, when "I told you that this (CoE 2020) Presidency was Difficult to Organise, Because, precisely, we had (initially) Started with Other, Different Thematics".

    - Indeed, "the Preparations Started from the Middle of Last Autumn" (2019). "And when I went, in the Last Trip that I made Before we were all Closed in the Confinement, it was on March 9 (2020), in Strasbourg, where I Presented the Greek Presidency to the CoE". (See Varvitsiotis' Statements to "Eurofora" on that occasion, published at : ..., etc).

    => I.e. "When we did Not have yet, in front of us, Neither a Period of Rising UnEmployment, Nor of a New Economic Crisis, as that due to come now, Not Even any Shut-Down, Confinement, and Questions as those which were just raised" (Comp. Supra), he Reminded.

    >>> So that, "during the Following 2 Months, we Tried to CHANGE our AGENDA, in order to Adapt it to the New Situation", BUT, "all did NOT respond with the Same RAPIDITY"...

    - "However, because we Want for this (CoE 2020) Presidency to be DYNAMIC, you must Not have Any Doubt that all the GOOD IDEAS, (including the Good Ideas that You might Give us), we Shall VALORIZE them, by Inciting to Advance towards the CREATION OF EQUIVALENT EVENTS", he promised.


    However, Meanwhile, Ambassador BEGLITIS, told "Eurofora" that he personaly regretted the Forced Cancellation, because of the Virus, inter alia, of a superb Concert, initially Planned for June in Strasbourg (during PACE's usual Sessison, also Cancelled), with the Landmark "CANTO GENERAL" of Historic Poet Pablo NERUDA, composed by World Famous Mikis THEODORAKIS,




(who is still well Alive and kicking, and has even Received, recently, a Medal for the 75th Anniversary of the Victory against Nazism, just awarded by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN)...


    Inspired by VARVITSIOTIS, (Comp. Supra), "Eurofora" Optimistically suggested to Beglitis to eventually Try to innovate, and ..."Go Digital", also for that Concert !

    But he didn't seem to believe that it would be Technically Possible...











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Pierre Pflimlin's visionary line : Honouring the Memory of the man who wanted to build Europe on the Mountains, based on Spirit !



One of EuroFora's best inspirators is naturally Pierre Pflimlin :

We had a chance to personally meet the dynamic and experienced former President of both EU Parliament and CoE's Assembly, France's Prime Minister and Strasbourg's Mayor, only at his 90th anniversary, during an Historic speech at the Council of Europe, exceptionally full of people.

But his energetic figure looked more like a youngster of 19 years old, eager to win the Olympic games !..

Visionary, 2P was, from many points of view :

His daughter, Antoinette, Artist-decorator, and Senator Jung, President of a group of friends, confirmed us an Historian's revelation, that Pflimlin had initially the idea to build all European institutions (EU Parliament, Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights, etc) at the spectacular heights of Oberhausbergen hills, with an eye-catching view of both French Vosges and German Black Forest Mountains, in the midst of a Forest : A real vision to create a brand New European Headquarters with a big ambition !

But, it seems, that "someone in Brussels" found that picture, precisely, too big for his taste, and threw a spanner on the works...

Pflimlin stroke back a Decade ago, at his Historic 1997 farewell speech :

He urged Europeans to find another, more substantial way, to lift Europe to more important Heights in Future :

- "On which basis can we imagine the birth of a great Europe ?", he asked.

"Certainly an Economic basis ! A solid market economy, meeting also the needs of social justice. A Political basis : Europe must become a strong Political Power, able to influence World's changes, naturally for Peace."

"But I believe that the essential foundation of a greater Europe should be of Spiritual nature : .... The great pacific Revolutions were Spiritual Victories" : They expressed "People's main motivation to live in a society with our Values of Liberty, Democracy, respect for Human Dignity".

"Then, the roadmap is ready : Yes, the foundation of the unity for a large Europe is the spiritual heritage, inspired by Christian Humanism and the Humanism of Renaissance, of Enlightenment, from which emerged a Civilisation focused on the Human person".

"Here is the task to be accomplished. It's very difficult".

"The Time approaches when I'll have to pass over the torchlight. God willing, this torch should enlighten the path of those who are going to build, tomorrow, the great Europe, marked by this Spirit".


(Extract from the Book "Pierre Pfilmin : Alsacian and European", 2007. Texts by Senator Louis Jung, by the long-time f. Director of Strasbourg's Newspaper DNA, Alain Howiller, and by f. EU Parliament's Press Director, Paul Collowald : See dedications, hand-written by the authors, the day the book for Pflimlin's 100th Aniversary was launched at Strasbourg's Press Club and European Parliamentary Association's headquarters, 13 April 2007).




2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?


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