Cengiz Aktar

Political Scientist

A former director at the UN where he spent 22 years of his professional life, Aktar is one of the leading advocates of Turkey’s integration with EU. He is the initiator in 1999 of a civil initiative for the candidacy of Istanbul for the title of European Capital of Culture. Istanbul has successfully held the title in 2010. Another civil initiative called European Movement 2002 was his brainchild too. That one was aiming at putting pressure on the legislator to speed up political reforms necessary to cross the threshold of the negotiation phase with the EU. In 2008 he developed the idea of an apology campaign addressed to Armenians, initiated on-line, supported by a number of Turkish intellectuals in Turkey. Aktar is deeply involved in studying politics of memory regarding ethnic and religious minorities in Turkey. He was the editor of History Series of the Hrant Dink Foundation publications. During his UN years Aktar held seminars in the universities of his duty stations. He worked closely with EU officials, with ECHO as well as DG JFS in particular. He was involved in capacity building programmes in candidate countries of Central Europe in 1994-1999. Since 1999 he thought courses on various EU policies and Turkish Foreign Policy at Galatasaray and Bahçeşehir Universities. He was a senior researcher at Istanbul Policy Center. He used to write columns in Today’s Zaman, Taraf, Vatan, Haberdar. He is a regular commentator since 1999 at Açık Radyo. He is member and/or advisor to following institutions: the French periodical La Revue du Mauss, the Turkish ecological ngo Buğday, the Hrant Dink Foundation and the Aladin Project. He is also a reviewer for the European Commission, DG Research. Aktar has published several books and numerous articles in Turkey and abroad. His latest book “The Turkish Malaise” was published by Transnational Press in London in September. Born in 1955 in Istanbul he graduated from the Lycée de Galatasaray and completed his higher education at Panthéon -Sorbonne where he received his PhD degree on Economic Epistemology in 1982.

Stavros Boufidis

Psychiatrist – Psychotherapist

Stavros Boufidis is Psychiatrist – Psychotherapist, Member of the Hellenic Psychiatric
Association, Co-Founder – Scientific Associate of the Special Clinic for Sleep Disorders – 1st Department of Neurology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2000-2013), Secretary of the Intercultural Department of the Hellenic Psychiatric Association, and Board Member and Head of Health Affairs of the Transgender Support Association. He has a rich activist and volunteer background working with several NGOs, collectives and solidarity movements with continuous and diverse active participation from 1993 until today, while as a psychiatrist he also recommended the de psychiatrification of transgenderism within the context of the legal recognition of gender identity. He was Vice President of the Board of Directors of Médecins Sans Frontières – Greece (2002-2005), Secretary General of the Board of the Medical Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Other Ill-Treatment, Thessaloniki (2000-2003) and Member of the seven-member interdisciplinary committee of the Ministry of Health for gender identity for persons aged 15-17 years (2017-2019). He created and managed the first shelter for
hosting / protection of victims of trafficking / victims of domestic violence in Thessaloniki (2004-2010) in collaboration with the Medical Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Other Ill-Treatment. 

Aikaterini Georgiadou


Aikaterini Georgiadou is a lawyer appointed to the Supreme Court and the Greek Council d’ Etat and a member of the Bar Association of Thessaloniki. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Law and Political Sciences, School of Law, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Graduate of the Faculty of Law of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She actively participates in Greek and international congresses, workshops, and activities related to human rights issues and public goods. An active member of the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), a non-governmental organization for the protection of human rights and she has handled cases under the Rights4refugees program organized by the HLHR. She had provided legal aid and counselling to asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants in the asylum-seeker sites in Greece (Elpida-Dion, Softex, Skaramangkas, Vrasna). An active member and volunteer lawyer of the Greek Transgendered Support Association, defending human rights of transgender people in Greece, having represented the Association in conferences, supporting advocacy for transgender rights both in Greece and in European institutions. She is a legal activist, who has contributed with strategic litigation to LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers in Greece, the preservation of Greece’s cultural inheritance, the non-privatization of the water company in Thessaloniki and Athens, the distinction between Church and State, and the battle against racism and xenophobia. Katerina is a member in several social associations and collectives (Save the water (Soste to nero), Alexandrou Svolou Neighborhood Initiative, Friends of Rotonda, KEERFA) and former Councilor in the City Council of Pella, President of the Pella Municipal Enterprise for Tourist Development).

Solita Saltiel


Lawyer with many years of experience in a wide range of transactions, especially acquisitions and mergers, with emphasis on cross-border transactions and foreign investment in Greece and Southeastern Europe. She was responsible for the design and implementation of the knowledge management strategy of one of the largest law firms in Greece. Holder of a Master’s degree in Public Law and Political Science from the Law School of Aristotle University and in Economic Law from the University of London. Has contributed to the work on the Thessaloniki Jewish Museum. In recent years Saltiel is engaged with issues of gender and refugees and immigrants’ integration. Member of the Symbiosis partners’ Board since 2015. 

Christos Iliadis

Christos Iliadis is a PhD social scientist and an independent consultant working for the Council of Europe (CoE), the academia and consulting companies. He specialises on issues of social inclusion, access to Rights and democratic governance. He holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Athens and a doctorate diploma from the Government Department at the University of Essex, UK. He has 10 years of experience conducting qualitative research and analysis on social and policy issues, including for the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the CoE and the FMO. He has interdisciplinary research experience in data collecting and drafting reports, including in monitoring studies. He has extensively published both academic and non-academic papers – including a monograph – on the issues of his specialization. From 2017 until 2022 he was the Greek national coordinator for JUSTROM, a joint programme of the EU and the CoE that promoted access to justice for Roma women. In 2021 he produced monitoring reports with Tetra Tech on the EEA Grants programme & Roma inclusion and empowerment in Greece” and he completed a research report on the barriers to Roma women’s access to justice for the CoE. In 2015 he co-authored the report ”Integration of
Migrants and their descendants in Greece” on behalf of the Fundamental Rights Agency. Since 2022 he is a consultant to the CoE in the area of intercultural cities and inclusive integration (policy and strategy advice, capacity building and network co-ordination).

Nicole Petalidou

Psychologist, FOMEN Researcher in Greece, Symbiosis-School of Political studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network

Nicole Petalidou holds a BSc in Economics and Political Science from the University of Twente, the Netherlands, and a second BSc in Applied Psychology from the University of Derby, United Kingdom. Further, she received her MSc in Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology from the University of Maastricht, where she was simultaneously working as a Research Assistant. In addition, she has been collaborating with the University Hospital of Thessaloniki as a Research Associate since 2015. Nicole initiated her involvement with the humanitarian sector many years ago, initially as an active volunteer in many organisations related to human rights and afterward as a professional in the sector of Protection and is an expert in Gender-Based Violence and Social Inclusion. She is the Researcher for Greece in the “FOcus on MEN (FOMEN)” EU project implemented by Symbiosis. She is a fluent speaker in English, Greek, German and Dutch.

Michalis Karakonstantis

Council of Europe Language Integration for Adult Migrants (LIAM) trainer for Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, affiliated to the Council of Europe Network

Michalis Karakonstantis is a Council of Europe Language Integration for Adult Migrants (LIAM) trainer for Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, Council of Europe Network. Michalis works as the Education Team Leader for Greek Refugee Council, coaching the two education teams in Athens and Thessaloniki providing technical and educational support to the educators. He has a Degree in German Language and Literature and holds an MA in Linguistics. He is a certified EUROLTA teacher and trainer for teaching Greek as a foreign language to adults, and he has received training certification in Adult Education. For the last 14 years, Michalis has worked as a certified teacher of the Greek and German language in language schools in face-to-face and online sessions. He has been a Greek Language Educator for migrants and refugees of different age groups in the GCR multicultural centre PYXIDA, as well as Education Consultant to
refugee families and Education Team Leader, including volunteer teachers of PYXIDA. Michalis presided for three years the ACCMR (Athens Coordination Centre for Migrants and Refugees) Education Committee meetings. His training experience includes online seminars for teachers for migrants and refugees in a partnership with the Hellenic Culture Centre. 

Aleksandr Shmelev

Expert Fellow

In 2006-2008, Aleksandr worked in the Russian propaganda system being the Editor in Chief of the most popular news outlet in Russia ( After his views have significantly diverged from those of the Russian government, he left the job and became an independent political writer working with various NGOs on helping to preserve democracy in Russia. In 2021 he had to leave Russia fleeing from political persecutions and after the war started he became one of the founders of the Pristanište Foundation which hosts Ukrainian refugees and anti-war Russians in Montenegro.

Rachel Riegelhaupt


Rachel Riegelhaupt has worked and volunteered with refugee and migrant communities in Greece, Palestine/Israel, Kuala Lumpur, and New York City since 2017. Rachel holds a Juris Doctor from NYU School of Law, an MA in Human Rights from Columbia University, and a BA from Johns Hopkins University, where she dual-majored in International Studies and Sociology with a concentration in Global Social Change and Development. She is currently an Arthur Helton Global Human Rights Fellow at Equal Rights Beyond Borders in Kos, Greece.

At NYU Law, Rachel was a student advocate with the Central American Refugee Center, an Abby Lyn Gillette Women’s Rights Fellow at Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project, and an International Law and Human Rights Fellow at the International Women’s Rights Action Watch. She assisted asylum seekers with their immigration related casework through the New Sanctuary Coalition’s weekly asylum clinic, and represented gender-based violence survivors through Sanctuary for Families’ Courtroom- and Campus Advocates Projects. She served as a Research Assistant for Professor Ashley Armstrong’s study on safe third country agreements, and was a student author for the Journal of Legislation and Public Policy. Prior to NYU, Rachel briefly worked with the UN Refugee and Migrant Response Team in Greece’s Education in Emergencies team, and then advocated on behalf of rural Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank through a 2017-18 Dorot Fellowship.