Katerina Sakellaropoulou
Country: Greece
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Katerina Sakellaropoulou

Katerina Sakellaropoulou ( born 30 May 1956) is the President of Greece. She was elected to succeed former President of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, by the Hellenic Parliament on 22 January 2020. Prior to her election as President of Greece, she served as President of the Council of State, the highest administrative court of Greece. Sakellaropoulou is the first female president of Greece. Sakellaropoulou was born in Thessaloniki. Her family comes from Stavroupoli, Xanthi, a town in Xanthi prefecture. She studied law at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and completed her postgraduate studies at public law at Paris II University. In the mid-1980s, she was admitted to the Council of State and she was promoted to councellor in 2000. In October 2015 she was appointed Vice-President of the Council of State, and in October 2018 she became the first female president of the court, following a unanimous vote. Her election came after the Syriza government, which was in power at the time, considered her progressive record on issues such as the environment and human rights. She has been a member of the Association of Judiciary Functionaries of the Council of State. During her tenure at the association, she has served as its Secretary-General (1985–1986), Vice-President (2006–2008), and President (1993–1995, 2000–2001). She publishes regularly in academic journals. She has also contributed to the book Financial crisis and environmental protection on the case law of the Council of State, Papazisis Publications, 2017. On 15 January 2020, the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, nominated her for the post of President of the Hellenic Republic, a post she was elected to on 22 January 2020 with 261 MPs voting in favour in the 300-seat Parliament. Progressive judge to become Greece's first female president Greece is poised to get its first female president after the country’s centre-right leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis took the unprecedented step of proposing a progressive female judge to assume the role of head of state. In a move loaded with symbolism for a nation more used to the divisiveness of bipartisan politics, the prime minister nominated 62-year-old Katerina Sakellaropoulou. “The time has come for Greece to open up to the future,” he said in an unexpected televised address, emphasising that the choice embodied unity and progress. The news of a cosmopolitan jurist being catapulted to the head of the republic caught many off guard – not least in Mitsotakis’ own New Democracy party. Her views have often run counter to the establishment.

Greece-Katerina-Sakellaropoulou
PC CREDIT: All major parties voted in favor of Sakellaropoulou's nomination. Orestis Panagiotou / Pool via Reuters Jan. 22, 2020, 11:14 PM PKT By Associated Press

But less than 24 hours later, opposition parties, in a display of rare accord, also backed the proposal on Thursday. Former premier Alexis Tsipras, describing his decision as an “act of responsibility”, announced Syriza MPs will vote in favour in a parliamentary ballot on 22 January . The centre-left Kinal likewise expressed support, giving Sakellaropoulou’s election the blessing of at least 266 deputies in the 300-seat parliament. The five–round vote requires an overwhelming majority of 200 to pass initially. The historic step would, analysts said, go some way to redressing Mitsotakis’ poor record of appointing women. Just five were given cabinet positions when his New Democracy party ousted Syriza in July, a decision for which the leader was broadly chastised both at home and abroad. “It’s inspired because he’s not only been heavily criticised for not having enough women in his cabinet but she is also very progressive,” said the prominent political commentator Pavlos Tzimas. “She belongs to a minority of judges in Greece who have always taken a courageous stance on civil rights whether that be voting against sexual discrimination, or in favour of refugee children or civil unions for same sex couples. There are many in his own party who will not be happy with this choice.” The French-educated judge broke the mould when she was elevated as the first woman to the helm of the country’s highest court in October 2018. Sakellaropoulou’s sensitivity to civil liberties, ecological issues and minority rights, prompted the then leftwing administration to propel her to the post. At a time when the climate emergency is becoming ever more apparent, aides close to Mitsotakis said her track record in protecting the environment, while also endorsing policies of growth, would be crucial as the country emerges from a period of political and economic crisis following its near brush with bankruptcy. Reacting to her nomination for the country’s highest office, Sakellaropoulou, who is divorced and has one child, described it as “honouring both justice and the modern Greek woman. I accept the proposal and, if elected, will devote all my efforts to serving this high duty, as set out by the constitution”. Previously Tsipras had said he would support the re-appointment of incumbent president Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a professor of constitutional law, whose current five-year term expires in March. A veteran conservative, Pavlopoulos’ re-election would have been endorsed by many in New Democracy, a party of deeply-held traditional views. But signalling his determination to overhaul his own political group, Mitsotakis, 51, insisted that as an apolitical figure who was above party politics, Sakellaropoulou could reflect Greece’s “rebirth” as it gradually recovers from the debilitating drama of dealing solely with its debt.

Greece elects Katerina Sakellaropoulou as first woman president

Greek lawmakers backed Katerina Sakellaropoulou as the new head of state, making her the first female president in the country's history. Sakellaropoulou has worked as a top-level judge but remains a political outsider. The head of Greece's top administrative court, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, was elected the new head of state following a historic parliamentary vote on Wednesday. A cross-party majority of Greek lawmakers endorsed Sakellaropoulou as the successor of the current president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, whose term is set to expire in March. The 63-year-old Sakellaropoulou will become the first woman in the history of Greece to hold the top office. While the president's authority is limited by the constitution, the officeholder is the commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces and is often consulted on important affairs in an advisory capacity.

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PC CREDIT: Image credit: EUROKINISSI

Greece opens up to 'the future'

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis suggested Sakellaropoulou, a well-known progressive judge, for the post which she is expected to hold for the next five years. "The time has come for Greece to open up to the future," he said last week. The move was backed by Mitsotakis' conservative New Democracy party, but also by the opposition Syriza party led by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who praised Sakellaropoulou as an "exceptional judge" and a defender of human rights. The Thessaloniki-born Sakellaropoulou is a daughter of a Supreme Court judge. She studied law in Athens and completed her post-graduate studies at Sorbonne in Paris. She is known for her progressive attitude on the issues such as discrimination and climate change.

Balance instead of confrontation

Despite her decades-long career in the top tier of Greek judiciary, Sakellaropoulou is considered a political outsider and has no party alliances. Talking to DW Greek, political scientist Stella Ladi noted that Sakellaropoulou preferred balance to confrontation during her judicial career. "And this exact attitude is especially important for the presidential office," the Athens-based expert said. EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Sakellaropoulou, saying that Greece was "moving ahead into a new era of equality."

International Women's Day at the European Parliament: Reflection of Sabra Bano on the speech of President Sakellaropoulou

t would be an honour for any women's organization to comment on the inauguration speech of President Katerina Sakellaropoulou of the Hellenic Republic (Greece) delivered at the observation of this International Women Day held at the European Parliament. It is a great privilege for me to reflect on Madam President’s message with reference to IWD 2021. She is a leader who earned her presidential nomination through various political parties, including the opposition, She is an expert on law and environment, known as a defender for minorities and an advocate for gender equality and inclusion. President Sakellaropoulou is a believer in democracy who is proud on Greek foundation to the global democracy fortress and has often referred its link from Aristotle to Marx. Madam President’s message is heartwarming. Her call for action reaffirms her strong leadership. Her message mainly details the impact of Covid-19 on women in general, and specifying focusing on the areas where women and girls are impacted the most. This is a bold endorsement to what has already been predicted and warned about a year ago by Gender Concerns International where it shared a report (Covid-19 Recovery & The Vitality of International Women Organisations) to the high level influential global community of International Gender Champions for its action. President Sakellaropoulou is highlighting the fears that were projected at the beginning of the crisis, in the areas of violence, health, isolation and many more. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit all of us and everywhere, but has especially emphasised how vulnerable women are. President Sakellaropoulou spoke about low paid, unpaid and part-time work, and how these jobs are mainly filled with women. For decades, feminists around the world have campaigned for Wages for Housework. The global economy is dependent on the unpaid work of women. Inequalities persist in our system of governance and power comes from resources allocation mechanisms. A profound change is vital that overhauls the current system. A system that provides equal access in electability, delivers gender parity candidate lists to the corridors of fairly elected governance, is needed. President Sakellaropoulou concluded her message rightfully by emphasizing on democracy. Democracy, for us, means no discrimination on the basis of gender, parity in electability and parity in resources allocation. Gender equality advocates should take this further in Europe and beyond. We are grateful to the European Parliament NL to place women organisations at the core of today's observation. Happy International Women’s Day to everyone!

Speech by the President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the central event of the Greek Chairmanship of the Council of Europe (Temple of Olympian Zeus, Wednesday, 08.07.2020) | “The Council of Europe in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic: new challenges for democracy and the Rule of Law

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this event organized by the Greek Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. We are truly pleased because, after the easing of the restrictive measures, the event is being held live, in the presence of the ambassadors of the member States of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe has played a distinctive role in consolidating democracy, human rights and the Rule of Law in post-war Europe. Only three months after the founding of the Council, in August 1949, Greece became a member and, since then, has uninterruptedly cooperated with the Council’s statutory organs and institutions save for the time of the dictatorship. Eminent personalities represent Greece in the independent institutions of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly, the European Court of Human Rights, the Venice Commission, thus ensuring an effective channel of communication and interaction in the fields of politics and law. Constant cooperation with the Committees for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the combatting of discrimination and racism, and the adoption of anti-corruption policies has proven both constructive and beneficial. It is a nice coincidence that the 4th of November 2020, the day on which the 70th anniversary of the signing of the most iconic text of the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), will be celebrated, falls under the Greek Chairmanship. Prior to the 1975 Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights had not been given sufficient attention by the Greek legal order. After the restoration of democracy in our country, the Convention gradually entered legal reasoning and is now an integral part of legal practice. This dialogue between the national judge and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights revealed major deficits in our national legislation, particularly in the areas of delivery of justice, freedom of expression, detention conditions and religious freedom. The Convention reshaped administrative practices, influenced the role of the legislator and even informally changed the text of our Constitution. Furthermore, it strengthened our ties with the rest of Europe and played a pedagogical role, in the sense that it taught us how to better respect the rights of minorities and diverse identities, thereby covering many aspects of self-determination: gender, sexual orientation and private life. Greece adopted the European acquis on human rights and also contributed, with the peculiarities of its own Constitution, to enriching the legal order of the Council of Europe and making it more pluralistic. The pandemic has redefined the Council’s priorities and the themes chosen by the Greek Chairmanship. The key theme is ‘The protection of human life and public health in a pandemic situation-Effective management of a health crisis in full respect of human rights and the principles of democracy and the rule of law’. A theme which under such emergency circumstances is fully in line with the mission and values of the Council of Europe. The successive crises in the last decade have shaken the solid foundations of democracy and the Rule of law in Europe. The economic crisis significantly affected social rights and benefits provided by the state in the sectors of healthcare, education and social security. The latest large-scale recession in Europe stoked the fires of populism and euroscepticism. The refugee and migration crisis brought disintegrative tendencies and fomented nationalism to the fore. The faultlines in European cosmopolitanism grow deeper and the ideal of a United Europe has faded as people are lulled by national protectionism into a false sense of security. Many seriously underestimate liberal democracy, the legacy of the Enlightenment in Europe, which is served by European Institutions, such as the Council of Europe. The Pandemic has only made contrasts starker. Throughout Europe, there is rising concern about public health and popular prosperity. Protection of human life and health is the bedrock upon which our Social Charter was built, the fundamental agreement between those in government and the citizens, forming the basis of political and social life. The virus reminded us of the value and universal nature of public service. The State has once again regained its status in our collective conscience as the most powerful guarantor of our life and liberty. Greece has become a role model for the rest of the world because of the way it handled this public health crisis: we trusted the experts, organized and strengthened our National Health System. Τhanks to the tireless efforts of the medical and nursing staff, we limited fatalities to the greatest extent possible. It was not just the State that set a good example; Society as a whole followed suit. Everybody showed discipline and adhered to the strict measures imposed. Solidarity was offered to vulnerable groups and frontline workers showed self-sacrifice. The pandemic was a lesson in ethics and politics: we realized that every action we take in such emergency situations not only does it affect us as individuals, but also affects others and protects them. We saw that when the State acts wisely and operates according to a plan, it lives up to our expectations and rallies the nation behind a common cause. European societies were hit hard by the pandemic. Sanctity of life is non-negotiable in our civilization where every life lost is unique. European countries did not suffer equally. Italy and Spain found themselves in the eye of the storm, counting many confirmed cases and thousands of deaths, with the virus spreading faster. The heart-wrenching scenes of people in despair and unburied bodies, we saw from hospitals, were not merely pictures of people in Spain and Italy, they were pictures of Europeans, pictures of all of us. The pandemic made clear that international and supranational coordination is required to handle the crisis. Our common vulnerability to the virus has highlighted the infinite possibilities for cooperation between States and international organizations. From the very first moment, members of the scientific community joined forces in a tireless race for the vaccine and cure. Vigilance at the international and national level ensured the unobstructed movement of food, drugs and medical supplies. The Eurozone demonstrated quick institutional reflexes and took relief measures to provide material support to the population in a timely manner. Fiscal discipline rules were loosened. The new funding package did more than inject liquidity, it provided optimism and hope for our European future. This move proved wrong those who rushed, once again, to predict the collapse of Europe, underestimating its power and the dynamics of the bonds that hold us together. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the first priority is to reduce inequality and make sure that citizens achieve autonomy in meeting their material needs. The political response to alleviate the consequences of the pandemic is to revitalize the lung of our democracy, that is, to safeguard social mobility of European citizens, particularly of young people who see their life prospects dwindling or being frustrated by high unemployment and weak economic growth. Europe cannot withstand another protracted recession.

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PC CREDIT: Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou inspects a guard of honor during a visit to the island of Kastellorizo, Greece, Sept. 13, 2020. (Reuters Photo)

The main aims of the Greek Chairmanship include a strong democratic element. They are clearly developmental and social in character and exhibit the strong political will to support and give impetus to younger generations as they will give shape and form to our European Future. In this new pandemic environment, preventive measures restricting our freedom of movement have a horizontal effect; they have an impact on work, education and communication. State and society are undergoing transformation and rapidly entering the digital era. The Greek chairmanship is digital, not only from a technical point of view, making smart use of online events and conference calls. Digital technology is our most powerful counterweight to the crisis. One of the core priorities of the Chairmanship is to familiarize children and young adults with the fundamental values of Europe and democratic culture, through the use of all modern digital technologies. Education is the driving force of democracy and active citizenship. This however requires providing our youth with the appropriate cognitive tools to develop their IT skills on the basis of self-determination. Promoting democratic pluralism and an open public sphere does not mean tolerating misinformation and fake news, which proliferate in times of crisis and disorient the public debate. Educational policy is part of a broader European Programme on the protection of minors as a vulnerable group. Protection against poverty, violence, human trafficking, forced labour and all forms of exploitation. Greece has shouldered the main burden of receiving large refugee and migrant flows, including many unaccompanied minors. Children that have suffered traumatic experiences because of abandonment and the war ravaging their countries. It is our duty to offer them material and psychological support in suitable accommodation facilities. It is also our duty to take full advantage of the digital opportunities offered during this crisis to speed up registration and asylum procedures, thus reducing the time children and migrants spend in administrative detention. We delve deeper into our common European conscience and strengthen it further by protecting our rich cultural heritage against another modern threat, a ‘pandemic in slow motion’ as it has been aptly called: climate change. Archeological sites, cultural symbols which attest to our origins and common trajectory in European space and time are at the mercy of extreme weather conditions for which we bear sole responsibility. The integrity of monuments and historical places is under threat, and if they are damaged, our collective memory will also be shattered. Scientists and International environmental organizations have sounded the alarm: climate change, along with other environmental disruptions, may provide fertile ground for the emergence of new infectious diseases, like COVID-19, and it may change their transmission model. We are running out of time to raise environmental awareness. We all have all witnessed the isolation and abandonment caused by the pandemic, but we have also noticed the reduction of the pollution levels and the refreshing of the waters on the planet. The pandemic, brought us back, albeit dramatically, to a life where less energy is being wasted. Clean and sustainable development policies not only do they guarantee the material integrity of our monuments but also ensure the immaterial dimension of our daily lives, our cultural way of life. The Green Deal is our roadmap to a climate neutral Europe by 2050. It contains actions to restore biodiversity, reduce pollution and make efficient use of resources, thus paving the way for a clean, circular economy. It is true that when there is a pandemic we are all at risk. Some of us, however, are more vulnerable than others. Vulnerable groups are not only determined by biological factors, age or the underlying diseases of people who experience this risky situation more intensely. The public healthcare system has rightly given them absolute priority to bring the number of casualties down to as close to zero as possible. However, we are also surrounded by socially vulnerable fellow citizens, those who suffer the most from the pandemic and the measures restricting their freedom, be it physical, professional or even social. One of the main aims of the Greek Chairmanship is to combat discrimination: cases when public or private discourse diverges and becomes directly or indirectly racist, family violence which is exacerbated in conditions of confinement, stigmatization of minorities where the pandemic is used as a pretext. The protection of the Social State is equally important. Preventive Care in the form of screening tests to detect the virus and measures restricting movement were the immediate response by the State when the crisis broke out. In the long term, though, these solutions need to be complemented by the Welfare State in the form of welfare benefits. What comes first is targeted support to socially vulnerable groups: the unemployed, the most deprived, single parents, people with disabilities, inhabitants of remote mountainous or insular areas. Providing support to businesses and employees for whom physical distancing is not an option, supporting tourism and seasonal work. Equal access to public goods and protection of labour rights, in a society battered by the crisis, constitute a safety net for many people and guarantee social cohesion. These are European matters of the highest order, which is why one of the aims of the Greek Chairmanship is to promote the implementation of the European Social Charter. As the crisis unfolds, predictions by international organizations such as the ILO (International Labour Organization) are bleak: global unemployment is expected to rise to higher levels than those of the 2008 crisis. Social protection is not only linked to the adjustment and implementation of labour legislation but also to a viable transformation of the economy and the use of the digital model of remote working to the benefit of society , businesses and employees. Many opportunities and challenges appear before us: new digital networks and energy infrastructure, the development of electronic services, such as the production of software for remote working, electronic money and digital signatures, and much more. The Social State is being reinvented according to the digital triptych of labour-health-education, with the promotion of teleworking, biogenetics, artificial intelligence and tele-education. Our world in the post COVID-19 period should not be a world of stark inequality, with the digital divide separating the digitally literate from the electronically illiterate. On the contrary, Europe should act in an inclusive and unifying manner; it should try to bridge differences and smooth them out. The challenge facing Europe and the Greek chairmanship is also institutional. Independence of institutions, particularly justice, is at the core of the Rule of Law and among the top priorities of the Greek semester. Europe is first and foremost a union of law, with justice being effective and impartial. Democracy and popular sovereignty cannot exist without the Rule of Law, the independent courts and the checks and balances that guarantee protection of minorities and prevent from the tyranny of the majority. This promotes the quality of democracy; it increases citizens’ trust in the State and European legal order which shares common rules and values. The judiciary is in a dialogue with politics, through the review of the constitutionality of laws, but does not depend on it or its political agendas: it remains the guardian of legality and social peace. The independence of judicial bodies is directly linked to the judge’s mission and constitutes an essential element of the right to effective judicial protection and a fair trial. The appointment and tenure of the members of the judiciary, particularly in supreme courts, the autonomous exercise of their duties and their imperviousness to interference by external interests do not just safeguard the delivery of justice. They act as a shield for democratic institutions and their representation to the citizens. Having served as a supreme court Judge myself for many years and President of the Council of State, I would like to assure you that citizens perceive justice neither as something abstract nor as the ‘the mouthpiece of Law’, as Montesquieu once said, a law that is often complex or even irrational and ignored by citizens. Justice is their last resort for a judgment that is fair and impartial; it is an institution they turn to in the hope of acquiring equality and freedom when they feel wronged. The pandemic will bring, or rather has already brought along with it, new challenges in the area of legislation. Judges will be called upon to rule on the law regarding COVID-19, this time the law of sanitary need. It is clear that when confronted with contemporary populist ideologies across the political spectrum, justice reserves the privilege of sobriety and reference to the rule. The Rule of Law and liberal democracy are a historical and cultural achievement of Europe. The Supreme Courts, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights played a determining role in this regard by defending the values of European Modernity. The pandemic has not only been an unprecedented public health crisis for all of us. It has also been a major political test; problems facing institutions and societies in Europe were precipitated, the most vulnerable and fragile aspects of our co-existence were brought to the surface. The crisis became a catalyst for economic, social and political developments which we cannot yet fully grasp or the outcome of which is unpredictable. Procrastination in establishing a European Political Union, a democratic deficit and the crisis of the welfare state were here long before the virus struck. There is now an even more imperative need for a paradigm shift in our co-existence in Europe towards an open society, not just financially but also culturally, a society with a robust human-centered character. A European society that fosters equal opportunities and inclusion, not exclusion and division. A new Europe will emerge in the wake of the pandemic. A wind of pessimism about the future prospects of Europe may be blowing across the Continent and the voices of dissent and introversion may be growing louder but we all know that Europe is a great place to live in and a privileged way of life . For Greece, which has struggled in the face of adversity in the last decade but has remained on its feet thanks to the sacrifices of the Greek people and its EU membership, the assumption of the Chairmanship of the Council is a unique opportunity. It will allow the country to showcase its European identity and contribute, especially now, to carving out our common European path and finding a way to exit yet another crisis. Europe’s response to these difficult times should not only be to manage the situation and solve financial problems. It requires that we go back to the fundamental ideas envisioned by Europe’s founding fathers, like Jean Monnet. Important European decisions, those that blaze new trails and broaden our horizons, should be political decisions par excellence. The Presidency of the Hellenic Republic will avail of all the appropriate means to actively support the Greek Chairmanship, the activities and events that will be organized during its semester. It is the least we can do as part of our duty to contribute to the work of the Council of Europe, the promotion of its values, rules and its institutional acquis, at this critical crossroads for our European future.

Great Achievements
Message of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, on the occasion of Greece’s assumption of the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe

Today, Greece assumes the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, an institution that has made a major contribution to shaping common European values and consolidating peace, democracy, human rights and the rule of law on our continent. The Greek Chairmanship will coincide, on 4 November, with the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Council of Europe’s greatest achievement: the European Convention on Human Rights. Greece’s assumption of the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe will take place under the special conditions dictated by the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic, which has impacted all of the CoE member states, will affect how the Greek Chairmanship functions, as well as the choice of themes to be emphasised. This will be the first E-Chairmanship and will make optimum use of the capabilities offered by new technologies. The central theme Greece has chosen is protection of human life and public health in the context of a pandemic and effective management of the Covid-19 health crisis with full respect for human rights, the principles of democracy and the rule of law. This theme fully reflects the Council of Europe’s mission and the fundamental values it represents. At the same time, it is of exceptional importance that the Greek Chairmanship will focus on judicial independence and effectiveness – a necessary condition for the existence of the rule of law. The Greek Chairmanship will also promote young people’s rights. These rights include, as priorities, strengthening education and democracy in the digital age; protection of children as a vulnerable group, especially during the crisis; enjoyment of cultural heritage undamaged by the impacts of climate change; and strengthening of social rights, particularly vulnerable groups’ access to healthcare, in light of the European Social Charter. These themes reflect the current challenges the health crisis, digital technologies and climate change are posing for human rights. The principles and values of the Council of Europe are the means through which we can respond to these challenges, without Europe’s losing what makes it unique. We will support the Greek Chairmanship and the actions and events it schedules with all available means. We all have a duty to contribute to the work of the Council of Europe, a global beacon of democracy and human rights that steadily lights and guides our country’s course Failures and successes It is ironic that in politics a smart move can coincide with a failed one. Starting with the second, the government’s admission, by the prime minister himself, that it was actually not prepared to deal with the refugee crisis, leaves an unpleasant taste. More important was the fact that Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government seemed to ignore the magnitude of the problem. How was that possible? This is a problem that has been complicated and acute for years and exceeds the capabilities of any government. Shouldn’t a new government have come prepared with some basic plan to deal with migration? Alas it didn’t. It seems this government came to power with a very specific agenda that focused on economic recovery, disregarding the huge, persistent problem coming from the east, even though the humanitarian crisis had exploded on the islands and the different identification centers for asylum seekers during the time of the SYRIZA administration. The point now is not that we currently have a government with an open or tough policy toward refugees, but that we have a government that doesn’t have much of a policy – at least it didn’t until now. From now on, the government will have to deal with migration as well as the crisis in Greek-Turkish relations. There is scope for this failure to turn into a success, but it will require a lot of effort, a system and a method. In a way, the stance of the conservative government reminds us of main opposition SYRIZA’s toward the economic crisis when it first came to power in January 2015. Of course back then we not only saw a lack of policy, but also fantasies of revolutionary greatness. In the same way that the economic crisis was indeed the number one problem that the new government would have to deal with, so in 2019-2020 the number one crisis concerns refugees and migrants. What about the smart move? The prime minister’s admission of failure regarding migration almost coincided with the announcement of his nominee for president of the Republic, top judge Katerina Sakellaropoulou. The vast majority of lawmakers will vote in favor of her candidacy, except those of the Communist Party and possibly MeRA25, whose founder and leader, in full narcissistic frenzy once again, committed the blatant indecency of nominating Magda Fyssa, the mother of slain anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, without asking her, just for show. This is a huge fiasco that everyone has condemned.

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PC CREDIT: Newly elected Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou signs protocol documents during the swearing in ceremony at the Greek Parliament in Athens. AFP Photo

The nomination is a success at a substantive and tactical level that will open new prospects in the future. On the one hand, it has disarmed the opposition, but most importantly, it has brought about a spirit of consensus, which is absolutely necessary during such a crucial time in foreign policy. However, there is a lot of hard work that needs to be done in handling migration. How Female Leaders in Greece are Creating Opportunities In Greece, women have become prominent leaders across many sectors. While gender equality is still being realized, more female leaders have accepted the challenge. With a growing number of women in specialized fields, their initiatives are making a difference. From politics to mental health care, female leaders in Greece are creating opportunities in many ways. Overcoming Barriers in Politics In 2020 Greece gained its first female president, elected into office by parliament. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a high court judge and advocate for human rights, has made great strides in breaking through gender inequality barriers. Previously serving as the first woman president of the Council of State, the top administrative court, Sakellaropoulou’s election into office as president is historical for Greece. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis believes this decision addresses the criticisms of the lack of women in senior positions in politics. Sakellaropoulou has been a leader in environmental and constitutional law and in advocating for citizenship for migrant children. While Greece struggles to regain economic stability after battling its worst economic crisis, Sakellaropoulou has increased hope among the people of Greece and serves as a role model for future generations of women. Providing Opportunities in the Workplace Women in European countries say men are more likely to obtain a high paying job. In Greece, more than four in 10 women feel men have more job opportunities. However, the contributions of female leaders in Greece have also led to increased opportunities in the workforce for women. Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, a Greek-American entrepreneur and an honoree of the 2020 Women Making History Awards, is creating more opportunities in the workforce. She is the CEO of Earth Friendly Products (EFP), a company that provides safe and eco-friendly products. Vlankis-Hanks has demonstrated the need to invest in employees through training. She also believes in providing grants to employees for solar panels at their homes, purchasing electric cars and giving bonuses to employees with less commuting times. These initiatives benefit both workers and the environment. Increasing Access to Mental Health Services Female leaders in Greece are also making waves in mental health. Nitzia Logothetis, the founder of the Seleni Institute, is transforming mental health for women. Logothetis is a licensed psychotherapist that has provided services in developing countries. She made significant contributions in mental health and has helped women and families throughout the world. In 2017, she ranked 19th on the Town & Country 50 Top Philanthropists. Her advocacy efforts have led to developments in care for postpartum depression, maternity disorders and maternal and reproductive mental health. Her organization the Seleni Institute offers telemental health services and specialized treatment over video conferencing, providing greater access to mental health services. The Seleni Institute can provide services to 300 women per week through psychotherapy, workshops and support groups. Recently, female leaders in politics, business and mental health have become influential in Greece. However, there is still work to do. Contributions made in specialized fields have opened doors for more women to take on leadership roles. As female leaders in Greece continue to make progress in these areas, more change will come.

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