Source: Republic of Greece – Foreign Affairs
Today, we celebrate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Council of Europe – the oldest political organization in Europe – which has come to be identified in the minds of European citizens with Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
In its 71 years, the Council has led the struggle for abolition of the death penalty, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, gender equality and protection of minorities. It awakened Europe’s community to longstanding problems and to current challenges to fundamental freedoms. In the end, it succeeded in forging a strong culture of democracy in its member states and imbuing European societies with the principles and values on which its work is founded.
The six-month Greek Presidency of the Council of Europe, which starts on 15 May, will confirm our commitment to these very values. A Presidency that is being called upon to handle issues every democratic society is facing for the first time – issues created by the global coronavirus crisis. The restrictions on exercising of fundamental freedoms and the functional coexistence of these restrictions with a democratic way of life are the great challenge of our time and will be the focus of the Greek Presidency.
It is our responsibility and commitment to transform the pandemic crisis into an opportunity for renewal of collective commitment to the vision of further consolidation of Democracy, the Rule of Law and respect for Human Rights in our continent. And in this effort, Greece will play a leading role as the country that first conceived of Democracy and that continues to defend it unwaveringly.