Strasbourg, 26 January 2021 – Today the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) elected Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis to the post of Secretary General of the Assembly, the first woman to hold the post in the Assembly's 72-year history. She will serve for a five-year term starting on 1 March 2021.
The election took place by electronic voting, with a very large participation rate of 96.46 per cent.
Upon her election, she thanked Assembly members for their support: "I am greatly honoured by the confidence of the members and their large mobilisation – I am up to the challenge! Building upon the competence of the Assembly's staff, I enthusiastically look forward to working together with the members of the Assembly as from March 1st to enhance the impact of our Assembly within our 47 member States and beyond, in close co-operation with the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General."
Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis has been working for 21 years with and for parliamentarians from all over Europe in the Parliamentary Assembly, leading, in turn, its Monitoring and Political Affairs Committees. She started her career at the Council of Europe in 1993 at the European Commission of Human Rights.
She is a Doctor in Law, holding a PhD on the European Convention of Human Rights from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.
Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis was born in Athens, Greece, on 28 February 1967. She is married and has two children.
Strasbourg, 26.01.2021 - Bjørn Berge (Norway) was elected today by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) as the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe by 185 votes to 112 for the other candidate, Leyla Kayacik (Turkey). He will take up office on 1 March 2021 for a period of five years and replaces Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni.
Bjørn Berge is currently Director General and Secretary to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. He previously served over seven years as Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General. Before that he worked as a Norwegian diplomat, including as Senior Adviser on international issues to the Norwegian Prime Minister.
Mr Berge studied international relations at the Johns Hopkins University of Washington D.C, where he was a Fulbright Scholar, and studied Chinese language and culture at the University of Science and Technology of Chengdu. He has published several books and articles.