EFAy is seriously concerned about Ms. Ashton’s choice of the first EU Special Representative for Human Rights. We find the appointment of Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis extremely inappropriate and unacceptable because we believe that candidates for such a high profile position must have a proven track record of international and national reputation in human rights advocacy together with a solid experience in dealing with human rights violations. Not only does Mr. Lambrinidis have no good reputation in advancing human rights in his home country Greece, but he is also known as an agitator in the Greek government’s propaganda war against the Republic of Macedonia. How can we expect that a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece and a former Ambassador at Large of the Hellenic Republic, who has never before spoken openly about the violation of minorities’ rights in Greece, will perform his tasks as an EU Human Rights Envoy independently of his national government and will be able to protect these vulnerable groups of people?
It is important to note that Greece has still not ratified many of the key international human rights treaties, a fact that alongside the alarming situation on the ground makes it one of the countries with the worst human rights record in Europe (for further information please check the annual reports prepared by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the OSCE, the UN, etc.).
We do not doubt Mr.Lambrinidis’ extensive political portfolio, diplomatic experience and excellent educational background but we certainly doubt that he possesses the qualities and skills that such an important EU figure should have in order to be able to promote with integrity the fundamental EU values and principles.
We welcome the adoption of the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy as a tool for further improvement of human and minority rights’ standards and consolidation of democracy. However, we are deeply concerned about the limiting scope of the plan that focuses primarily on the EU external relations and does not give the necessary internal powers to deal with the EU member states who are persistently violating the articles of the EU Charter.
Regardless of our fears and doubts, we still hope that Mr. Lambrinidis will not disappoint the expectations of his fellow MEPs (the vast majority of whom applauded his inauguration) and that he will perform his new function in a highly professional manner. We would also like to believe that he will raise EU’s human rights credibility in the World by addressing the pending human rights issues inside the Union, in particular in his home country Greece.