The European Commission has decided to appoint Mr Christos Stylianides, a Cypriot national, as Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. The decision will take effect immediately. The Special Envoy will be attached to Vice-President Schinas, who is in charge of leading the Commission’s dialogue with churches and religious associations or communities, and with philosophical and non-confessional organisations.
Freedom of religion or belief is under attack in many parts of the world. Today’s appointment shows the Commission’s commitment to address this challenge and to ensure that the rights of all faiths and beliefs are respected. The Special Envoy will establish 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. He will put in place measures to target de-radicalisation and prevention of extremism on grounds of religion or belief in third countries. In cooperation with authorities from third countries, he will promote religious diversity and tolerance within educational programmes and curricula.
The Special Envoy will coordinate his activities closely with the EU Special Representative on Human Rights. As former Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management from 2014 until 2019, Mr Stylianides repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to human rights and freedom of religion or belief. 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.