On July 24th 2000, the International Olympics Academy inaugurated in conjunction with Greece the International Center for the Olympic Truce, an international NGO seated in our country. Together, with the International Foundation of the Olympic Truce, a Foundation maintaining headquarters in Lausanne, the Center introduces a unique tool within the international arena to promote peace and mutual understanding between peoples, that is, the Olympic Truce.
• A movement, that is, for universal cease-fire of hostilities beginning on the seventh day prior to the initiation of the Olympic Games and lasting until the seventh day following completion of the Games.
• A movement which affords the opportunity for peaceful resolutions within regions in conflict.
• A movement that will contain, throughout the duration of the “Olympiades,” that is, the time period between the Games, the conditions necessary for a Truce stemming from athletics, culture and the promotion of the Olympic Ideals.
The historic initiative for the revival of the Olympic Truce in conjunction with the decision to establish an International Foundation and a Center for the Olympic Truce, with the Board of Directors of the two institutions comprised of highly prestigious individuals from around the world, proves a modern trust of peace.
The International Olympic Movement preserves the invaluable heritage of a century, reinstating, in the dawn of the third millennium, actions to contribute to human dreams and rights. At this point the International Center for the Olympic Truce assumes a determinant mission.
The activities of the Center maintain an international and a local dimension. They focus on specific regions that face the threat or the reality of conflict, while at the same time, they address the international community in order to promote the Truce. The duration of the actions reach their peak over the course of the Olympic Games, however, the Truce’s moment is apparent in the time between the Games.
The actions of the Center aim at preserving the Olympic Truce, providing humanitarian support to the local communities that suffer due to violent conflicts, determining conditions of a dialog between the belligerent parties following the implementation of the Truce, and at continuously promoting an international culture of peace.
The International Center for the Olympic Truce builds bridges of communication, humanitarian support and education through athletics, culture and the Olympic Ideals. This is achieved by means of a global network of collaborations with the Olympic Family, Organizing Committees of the Olympic Games, International Organizations, Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations and, above all, by means of all young citizens across the world.
In this direction, the Center establishes three pillars of actions:
• The communicative pillar supports action programs that aim to inform the international community with regards to the mission and the work of the Truce whilst simultaneously promoting the international dissemination of Olympic Ideals. The achievement of Truce assists all countries across the world, as it ensures an increasing awareness of the global community on the subject of the Truce. This can be achieved in many ways: for example, through lectures given by important personalities, the Internet, the media, and by creating dynamic actions in various communities pertaining to the subject.
• The educative action pillar of the Center activates the Olympic Ideals and the mortal value of athletics in order to disseminate a culture of peace, a culture entailing active participation of youths and of the citizens of the world, thereby involving them in the movement of the Truce. By formulating a network for the transmission of ideas and values in collaboration with the International Olympics Academy and with Academic, Educational and Research Institutions all over the world, the Center seeks to implement a pool of knowledge for the Truce whilst at the same time creating the adequate infrastructure necessary for long term continuation of the institution, thus, the global motivation for a culture of peace. In this context, initiatives and new born movements that will contribute to the education and the involvement of special public interest groups with regards to the Olympic Truce will be supported. For example, the operation of youth camps for the Olympic Truce, distribution and dissemination of informative materials concerning the subject, which can be utilized by schools and local communities to present this subject in a well-rounded fashion, particularly during the Olympic Games.
The issue pertaining to citizen education and action is strongly emphasized on schools around the world. In September 2002, a one-week pilot program will be implemented in schools located in belligerent regions as well those regions not facing conflicts around the world. An underprivileged school in a remote corner of India, Pakistan, Thessaloniki or Chicago, will be involved in a school network with the purpose of testing the program currently being prepared by 10 professors selected from all corners of the world, who have undergone special Olympic training.
• The support pillar of the Truce concentrates the Center’ s actions within regions of tension and armed conflicts in order to prepare the framework necessary to implement the Truce. This is achieved by providing humanitarian assistance and through the cultivation of those conditions necessary to continue the Truce’s vigorousness pursuant to reconciliation and peaceful settlement of conflicts. Essentially, this is a contributing effort to reviving the Olympic Truce. This effort in particular will focus on belligerent regions by means of athletics as well as to the Olympic Ideals. A prime example would be the organization of athletic activities and other events relative to the idea of the Truce and possibly achieved by the National Olympic Academies. These National Olympic Academies will certainly work with several International organizations, the United Nations, as well as NGOs and Organizing Committees of the Games in attaining these objectives.
The activity to date could be described as being very successful in the sense that apart from the programs that have already been prepared for the schools, a number of signed resolutions have been promoted by prominent individuals and organizations, which, it appears, are adopting this view and are ready to contribute to the idea of the Olympic Truce. The UN resolutions as well as those passed by the European Union and the United States Senate are worth noting in addition to the unanimous and supportive decisions adopted by many international organizations.
Special reference should be made to the prominent individuals’ resolution encompassed in this effort. Two signatures, those of George A. Papandreou and Ismail Cem set forth this effort at a meeting held in Athens. This resolution has been signed by all the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Balkan countries, followed by numerous prominent individuals of the European Union. The resolution also maintains the signature of Shimon Peres, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel and Nabil Saat, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian authorities. Of course, another important event was held recently which concluded by obtaining one additional signature.
This effort is closely linked to the ancient tradition of Libation Bearers, namely those carrying the Olympic Truce message. It was deemed that the time prior to the Olympic Games’ initiation comprised the appropriate moment to begin the procedure, that is, illustrating respect of the Truce. Thus, by obtaining all necessary signatures, including those in Salt Lake City and in continuance, essentially appointing the Libation Bearers as well as the ambassadors to the Olympic Truce around the world. Note, signatures from other sectors of life were collected, not just those included in the political sector.
The athletic world, together with prominent individuals, has worked in promoting peace in addition to Nobel Prize winners and others, who have been actively involved in this effort. This entire endeavor has the absolute support of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Costis Stephanopoulos, who has collaborated with the Minister of Foreign Affairs in sending to leaders all over the world, letters on the Olympic Truce and has requested their contribution on the supreme level of the State, not just on a national level nor as representatives of their country alone, rather than as prominent individuals who would like to support and contribute to this effort personally.
Two special initiatives supported and signed by the President of the Republic, Mr. Costis Stephanopoulos, are of particular interest. A special letter and emissary were sent to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs in India and Pakistan in an appeal to these two countries to, amongst other things, maintain the Truce. A similar letter was sent to the two parties of the crisis in the Middle East, the Palestinian and Israeli authorities. Of course, both the countries’ Ministers of Foreign Affairs signed the letter on a personal level. Pakistan and India have co-signed the United Nations Resolution. George A. Papandreou has requested that everyone, on an international level, comply with this Truce and has achieved this first effort, to essentially maintain the Truce.
The religious leaders who met in Brussels, following Patriarch Bartholomew’s initiative, also signed the declaration for the Olympic Truce.
Greece, following George A. Papandreou’s initiative, maintained a close collaboration with the UN bodies with the purpose of promoting the Resolution this year, in addition to its tight relations with the US Government. The US Government was initially very skeptical about this, especially this year, following the events in Afghanistan. Eventually, however, not only did they co-sign the Resolution, they took it a step further and as a country hosting the Olympic Games, submitted a Resolution to the UN in favor of the Olympic Truce.
Furthermore, special programs have been designed in Greece with the intention of accommodating children from other regions, such as the program, for example, in which children from the Southeast European region and the Balkans visited Olympia. Also, discussions are underway with Mr. Samaranch in achieving the Greek-Turkish Games under the auspices of the Foundation and the Center of the Olympic Truce; these will be the Truce Games of Greece and Turkey.
The entire effort is consistent with the spirit of the Olympic Movement and its contribution to peace. The return of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 is a major event; it is returning to its birthplace. Greece have been capable of assisting in the revival of the 1896 Olympic Games, it shall also seem constructive in the revival of yet another ancient tradition, that is, the Olympic Truce tradition. This is the reason why Greece considers the Games that will be held in Athens as Games for Peace, that is the characterizing trait of the Games in 2004, since they are cultural Games and Games for peace which incorporate an ancient tradition in a new, contemporary world.
The Olympic Flame for the Games in 2004 will travel to all continents of the world. It could, of course, also travel to belligerent regions of the world, were the Truce to be respected. In reality, the notion suggested is that the Olympic Flame be utilized as an incentive in belligerent areas, in which the Flame may cross the lands, carrying the message of peace and utilizing it to afford people with the opportunity to reflect, reconcile, and possibly negotiate their differences.