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Europe

A consummate Brussels networker

He studied law at Yale and is a dyed-in-the-wool politician - what Americans would call a "political animal" - Stavros Lambrinidis is the European Union's new Special Representative for Human Rights.

Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis talks during a press conference with his Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger (unseen) following their meeting on July 7, 2011 in Vienna. AFP PHOTO/SAMUEL KUBANI (Photo credit should read SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Stavros Lambrinidis in Vienna Archivbild 2011

He was one of the most loyal allies to Greece's former Prime Minister George Papandreou. But that did little to harm his career. Papandreou himself appointed him ambassador and once handed him the task of dealing with the foreign PR of the Greek Socialist party.

Stavros Lambrinidis was often left with some thankless tasks: in 2010, the then vice president of the European Parliament had to regularly face the cameras in Brussels and Strasbourg to explain his boss' financial policy u-turns to baffled BBC journalists.

Yale graduate and 'worker ants'

Speaking fluent English, the Yale law graduate often left a good impression. More generally, Lambrinidis is one of the few Greek politicians who regards Europe not as a career sabbatical, but as a challenge.

"We work like ants here," he told DW in an interview during his time in the EU Parliament. In other words, "if for example a Portuguese colleague wants to draw my attention to the problems of sardine fishermen in his home country, then I do have to listen, even if that's more of a side issue for me at that moment. Because only those who show interest in the affairs of others will be heard when they have to present their own problems."

Refugees in Crete (c) dpa - Bildfunk++

Lambrinidis has shown an interest in the plight of refugees

Rights of refugees and bloggers

The new European Union Special Representative for Human Rights seems to be a natural networker. In Brussels, he is said to have formed an especially strong relationship with Martin Schultz, the former chairman of the European socialists. But in a three-month interim period as Greek foreign minister under Papandreou in the summer of 2011, Lambrinidis had little time or opportunity to make his own mark. Little is known about his own political agenda.

But there are some indications. As European parliamentarian for the Greek socialists, Lambrinidis consistently criticized the EU's refugee and asylum policies and campaigned for a reform to the so-called Dublin II Regulation, which stipulates that refugees and asylum seekers must be distributed among all EU member states.

He also attempted to mark new legal ground, as he tried to regulate the rights, and even the duties, of Internet users. In fall 2008, he was the first Greek MEP to invite 50 bloggers from his own country to Brussels, not only to discuss freedom of expression, but also draft new proposals in the field of copyright law.

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