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Press Office

Athens, 21 October 2021

Meeting of President of Hellenic Parliament with Secretary General of Council of Europe

The President of the Hellenic Parliament, Mr Constantine Tassoulas, met this morning with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, before the opening of the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament of member states of the Council of Europe, held in Athens.

At the end of their meeting, Mr. Tassoulas and Ms Burić made the following statements:

C. Tassoulas: "It is with great pleasure and even greater honour that I welcome today in Athens, Ms. Buric, who is the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and a distinguished politician from Croatia, a country friend of ours. Ms. Buric undertook her high and responsible position in the Council of Europe around the same time that I took over the presidency of the Hellenic Parliament and in first place,we had the same difficulty: the first moments of the outbreak of the pandemic.

However, the immediate response ofthe Council of Europe and the positive and inventive approach, were for all of us a guideline and helped us to overcome thereasonable confusion at an early stage and I must congratulate Ms Buric for the readiness and organization shown.

This ingenuity in responding to the crisis, maintaining a balance between the protection of life and at the same time the protection of fundamental rights, which is the main reason for the creation and existence of the Council of Europe, is decisive: this balance from now on will follow us. Because we have the environmental crisis, the health crisis and obviously they are not the only ones. We are trained quickly and can adapt to similar situations.

I believe that the Conference taking place today and tomorrow here in Athens, will help the Parliamentary Assembly and the Conference of Presidents of Parliament of the Council of Europe, to propose tangible examples of applicable policies to ministers and governments, so that these new challenges can be encountered, not only by following them, but evenbetter by preventing them.

The Conference of Presidents held in Athens, commemorates the two-century anniversary of the war for our national independence. Greece gained its independence by starting a war of liberation 200 years ago.

Now, independence is taking on other dimensions, more global, more interoperable with other countries, with other states. We are called, under the roof of one of the most prominent institutions in the world, the Council of Europe to preserve this independence vis a vis these new challenges, such asthe environment, the sanitation, the violation of international law and others.

I am confident that the conclusions of our Conference will contribute to this direction and will justify the need to support this new idea of independence that is threatened by a new form of undermining."

M. Burić: "Thank you very much for the opportunity you gave us to be in Greece to celebrate with you the anniversary of your independence, but also for this initiative you have taken to host the Presidents/Speakers of Parliaments from 47 countries in a multifaceted, multilateral approach.

Greece has always been very important and supported this multifaceted cooperation, which in times of crisis is the only way to deal with issues that go beyond national borders. Greece was a very important player, especially during this time of crisis.

In the brief but substantial bilateral meeting we had with the President, we discussed about the crisis and how each country responded individually, but also what was the reaction at a multilateral level. We found that the role of the national parliaments was very important, althoughthe first period of the pandemic was a shock for all. The first priority was to protect life, citizens, public health, but on the other hand, it was important to protect and preserve all thathadbeen conquered: democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

In this respect, the role of the Council of Europe, as well as the role of national parliaments, is very important, because they are the ones who adopted emergency measures to deal with the pandemic, to save citizens’ lives, but on the other hand to ensure that everything is done in accordance to the circumstances.

This Conference is very important and it is extremely symbolic to be held in Athens, the city of democracy. It is important that we emphasize in this Conference what will help us to get ready for any future crisis. Because, as you said, this pandemic, this crisis, was an experience from which we can learn lessons for the future.

It is very important, then, that this Conference elaborates issues such as the new generation of human rights, new topics that are now evolving, such as artificial intelligence and climate change, and see how we can deal with them, based on the principles and the values ​​of the Council of Europe, namely the protection of human rights, of democracy and the rule of law

For these reasons, I look forward to hearing the discussions that will take place at this Conference and the messages its will spread, because they will guide our work in the Council of Europe in the future.

Thank you very much for the organization, as well as for the issues you have chosen to discuss, which are extremely up to date, as they emphasize the need for multilateral cooperation, but also the reaction of each country individually to such crises."

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