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Athènes, le 24 octobre 2019

Allocution du Président du Parlement hellénique au Sommet européen des Présidents de Parlement des pays-membres du Conseil de l'Europe à Strasbourg



Speech by

the President of the Hellenic Parliament

Mr. ConstantineTassoulas


I am called upon to speak as a politician, not as a prophet and as such I will talk about what must be done out of the things that can be done in the next 70 years, and mainly (speak about) what the priority is. As you will see this priority unites the 2 themes of our conference. Besides, it is well-established that it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future!

The Council of Europe was born 70 years ago out of the horrors of WWII in order to defend human rights in the European continent.

The European Convention on Human Rights is the foundation of European legal culture. It was followed by the European Court of Human Rights to ensure the compliance of the member states to the binding nature of the Court’s decisions. With the European Social Charter, the Council of Europe supports social rights. With the Venice Commission it strengthens the rule of law.

All these achievements that I’ve just described would not have been easily predicted 70 years ago, because they are literally unprecedented, however, now, this chapter allows us to be optimistic about the next 70 years.

Our main objective in the immediate future is to address the vital challenge of climate change. If we don’t do that, there is no point to any programme on well-being and economic progress, on innovation in education or new competencies in local administration. If the protection of the natural environment is not immediate and sustainable, i.e. if we don’t implement the Paris Agreement and the UN Agenda 2030, then we will be deprived of the framework within which we usually shape the story of our lives, taking it for granted, as unassailable and infinite. Can we do that? We have done it in the past:

In October 1971 a particularly inauspicious message was sent out to humanity: “After the year 2000 life on Earth will be almost impossible. A rapid population growth before the year 2000 will be followed by a dramatic sharp decline, due to food shortage and the environmental pollution’s impact on humans.” This was the conclusion 17 leading MIT scientists under Dr. Dennis L. Meadows came to and their report was published under the title “The limits to growth”.

The Dutch Commissioner of the then EEC (European Economic Community) Sicco Mansholt read this report and was very concerned. Today, he is widely known as the father of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). On 9 February 1972, affected by the MIT report, he sent a letter to the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the EEC Franco Maria Malfatti, with which he suggested ways for Europe to intervene, in order to prevent the foreseeable disaster.

We know today that Europe, thanks to SiccoMansholt, has addressed and pre-empted the predictions of the world’s largestcomputer(at the time). We know that both the food crisis and the demographic decline were prevented. It is therefore proven that Europe has prevented the worst by tackling serious crises with political decisions.

Is, however, the climate change issue on a par with the 1971 food crisis? It is clearly a bigger problem. But we do have the knowledge and the objectives at the ready and voted on. What we now need is the democratic political will. Greece, for example, already ardently supports the strategic long-term vision for an EU economy that will not burden the climate by 2050. We have already fulfilled the goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Until 2030 we plan to produce 35% of our electricity from renewable sources, shutting down all lignite-based power units by 2028 and as of 2021 we will ban single-use plastic.

Myself, I come from a region of NW Greece, Epirus. My village is Dodoni, where the oldest oracle of Ancient Greece was located. It was dedicated to Zeus, the king of Gods. From at least the 8th century B.C. all the way to the 4th century A.D. the oracle answered questions posed bylaymen, but also questions posed by leaders. They were questions that might as well have been posed today!

Questions such as:


Will my child be healthy?


Will my debtor repay me?


Will the harsh winter pass?


Should I marry Phenomeni?


Up to the 4th century B.C. people expected their God to free them from their anguish. A significant shift took place at the time, however, and religious Dodoni became political as well. The Greek tribe of the Molossians and their King, Pyrrhus, cousin of Alexander the Great, turnedDodoni into a political centrein the wider region. With a Vouleutirion (an Assembly), where laws were passed, and a Prytaneion (the seat of government) where the leaders governed and the renowned Theatre, where they unfolded their culture!

This is why I chose the subject on the next 70 years. Not because my village had an oracle, but because it had a Vouleutirio, where they determined their lives responsibly. Similarly today, in this significant and esteemed European Assembly I can finally predict that, yes, in the next 70 years as well, our common European home will be solid, because as we have done so far, we will yet again handle the biggest and final challenge of our era by reconciling with the environment with responsibility and leadership. With the Council of Europe at the helm of environmental protection, which is proving to be the primary human right of our time.


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