The European Commission appointed Former European Commissioner Christos Stylianides as Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU, effective immediately.
According to the Commission, the Special Envoy will be attached to Vice-President Margaritis 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 EU's executive body said in a press release.
The Cypriot politician served as the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management from 2014 until 2019. In 2014, he briefly served as the bloc’s Ebola coordinator.
“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," Stylianides tweeted.
"I’ve always been committed to defending & promoting this fundamental human right. I’ll work with the European institutions, IOs & NGOs to achieve the goals of my mandate & assist EU’s international efforts to protect human rights & promote freedom of religion & reconciliation," he added.
The Special Envoy 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, Stylianides will promote religious diversity and tolerance within educational programmes and curricula.
European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas welcomed the appointment of Stylianides as Special Envoy.
“Freedom of religion or belief is under attack in many parts of the world. Today’s appointment of Stylianides as special envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief shows we are determined to protect the rights of all faiths and beliefs. Welcome to the team Christos,” he tweeted.