Thursday, 6 May 2021

The European Commission appointed yesterday Mr Christos Stylianides as a European Union Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union.  Mr Stylianides, a faculty member in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health, is the former European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management (2014-2019).  Mr Stylianides greatly contributed to the EU’s global role as a “soft power” and was characterized as the “humanitarian face of Europe” across the globe. Between 2014 and 2016 Mr Stylianides played a key role as EU Ebola Coordinator in the international efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak. Under this capacity, he coordinated all European policies and the EU’s and Member States’ responsible services.

In addition to serving as Commissioner, he has exercised, over the course of his career, a range of high-level political functions that have endowed him with solid experience in communication and representation and a thorough knowledge of international organisations, religious actors and civil society organisations.

Accepting his appointment Mr Stylianides said: “I deeply thank the College of Commissioners for appointing me Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the EU. I accept this appointment with full understanding of the importance of this role. I’ve always been committed to defending and promoting this fundamental human right. I will work with the European institutions, international and non-governmental organizations to achieve the goals of my mandate and assist EU’s international efforts to protect human rights and promote freedom of religion and reconciliation”.

The Special Envoy will establish, among other, a dialogue with national authorities and other stakeholders in countries suffering from discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. He will support for intercultural and interreligious dialogue processes, including encouraging dialogue between representatives of different faiths and the setting up of joint initiatives.