Poul Smidt, “Scandinavian values and activism in the Greek case 1967-1974”
As a group military of officers took power in Greece in April 1967 and changed the country into a brutal military dictatorship, the setback for European democracy immediately became an issue of political concern in the Scandinavian countries.
Politicians, diplomats, human rights activists and journalists in Sweden, Norway and Denmark made the fight for human rights in Greece a political priority. No question, the support from the Scandinavian countries and to a lesser degree from the Netherlands, was instrumental as support and inspiration for the Greek opposition.
Poul Smidt, a Danish journalist and lawyer was in the middle of the events as the institutional fight against the junta and the systematical torture was brought into The Council of Europe and the Human Rights Commission and Court in Strasbourg.
Poul Smidt visited Greece many times during the period of "the colonels", networking with the political personalities in Greece or in exile abroad. He will present a personal view as well as an insight into the political mechanisms of those days.
The lecture is the first in a series hosted by the Danish Institute, the Netherlands Institute, the Swedish Institute and the Norwegian Institute at Athens in the context of the conference The ‘Greek Case’ in the Council of Europe: A Game Changer for International Law and Human Rights? (Athens, 12–14 December 2019). Perceived as a prequel to the conference that commemorates the 50th anniversary of Greece’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe, the lectures engage with the broader issues involved, concerning human rights, European institutions and international law in the past and contemporary times. They will feature leading scholars, journalists, writers and human rights practitioners, among others. All lectures will take place at the Danish Institute at Athens from April to November 2019.