ATHENS — The Greek presidency of the Council of Europe aimed to send "a clear message across Europe that the CoE is always vigilant and ready to defend democracy, the rule of law and human rights, even in this critical time of the pandemic," Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said on Wednesday, in his speech at the handover ceremony of the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from Greece to Germany.
Due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the handover ceremony, like most events during the six-month Greek presidency, took place online, with Varvitsiotis taking stock of the Greek presidency before handing it over to the German Minister Foreign Heiko Maas, whose country takes over the CoE presidency for the next six months.
Varvitsiotis underlined that the protection of human life and public health were the first priority, so the Greek presidency began on May 15 with a video conference meeting and was ending on Wednesday in the same way, while in between, all meetings, conferences, events, seminars, workshops under the Greek presidency, with a few exceptions, were held online.
He noted that it was particularly important, now that Europe was being tested again and facing serious challenges, including terrorism, to send the message that there is no room for religious extremism and no room for conflict between different beliefs.
Moreover, he stressed that those seeking better living conditions in Europe are driven not only by Europe's wealth, but also by what Europe stands for: an open society, integration and equal opportunities, humanist culture and social mobility.