Political and legal experience
Contributing to the Organisation’s enlargement and monitoring function
Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis contributed to the definition of accession criteria for new member States;
she played an active role in the accession of six member States, having assisted the “eminent lawyers” (former judges of the European Court of Human Rights) and/or the rapporteurs of the Political and Legal committees to prepare respectively pre-accession legal reports or accession opinions. In this, she put to the disposal of the Parliamentary Assembly her legal experience and knowledge of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) as well as her strong negotiation skills and political flair;
Fact-finding mission to the Russian Federation with "eminent lawyers", in 1994
she contributed to the development of the Assembly’s monitoring mechanism to accompany reforms in new member States and verify the implementation of accession commitments which led to the creation of the Monitoring Committee in 1997; she assisted rapporteurs in charge of monitoring with respect to 14 member States and participated in numerous election observation missions;
Meeting with Zelyu Zhelev, President of Bulgaria, during rapporteurs' fact-finding mission, in 1996
Fact-finding missions with monitoring co-rapporteurs to Armenia (up) and to Azerbaijan (down) in 2006
she contributed to developing country specific monitoring within the Committee of Ministers, linked to intergovernmental co-operation programmes and activities.
Handling politically sensitive and complex files
Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis provided appropriate advice and support to parliamentarians handling with skill, impartiality and discretion politically sensitive and complex files and issues such as crises and conflict situations in and between member States, including frozen conflicts;
Meeting with civil society representatives, including local and international NGOs, in Mariupol (Eastern Ukraine), in April 2016
she assisted parliamentarians to identify priorities for the Assembly, enhance its role and mission as the Council of Europe’s political engine, streamline its action, improve synergies with the Committee of Ministers and thus strengthen its relevance for the benefit of citizens and member States;
she contributed recently (April 2019-January 2020) to the definition of a complementary joint procedure by the Assembly, the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, in case of violations by member States of their statutory obligations.
During the Assembly debate, with Rapporteur Frank Schwabe, in January 2020
Preparing responses to democratic challenges in Europe
Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis contributed to setting up the World Forum of Democracy, having assisted the rapporteur and in close co-operation with the intergovernmental sector in promoting the role of the Council of Europe as a global reference on Democracy and coordinating the Assembly participation in the first editions;
she assisted parliamentarians to identify good practice on electoral matters, based also on the findings of the Assembly’s election observation missions, and make proposals which fed into the work of the Venice Commission and follow-up conferences i.a. on the abuse of administrative resources; the updating of the Venice Commission’s Code of Good Practice on Referendums is another example of follow-up;
With Chairperson Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Rapporteur on referendums, Dame Cheryl Gillan, Expert and Secretary of the Venice Commission, Pr Nicos Alivizatos and Simona Granata-Menghini, in September 2018
she contributed to the Assembly’s endorsement of the initiative by youth activists to make 22 July the European Day for Victims of Hate Crime through her work on counteracting neo-Nazism.
Fact-finding mission to Schwerin (Germany), with Rapporteur Ms Pourbaix-Lundin, when preparing report on Counteracting right-wing extremism and neo-Nazism, in 2015