The New Challenges for Greece in 21st Century Europe
“Ambassadors, dear friends,
First let me thank PASOK’s members of the European Parliament for organizing this event, as well as for their dynamic presence on the European, global and Greek political scene.
I apologise for my short delay, but as I was entering the hotel Mr. El Baradei called me and we had a long talk regarding the issue of Iran, which I will address later on.
I would like to begin by talking about broader global issues, and then focus on issues that concern Greek foreign policy and its priorities.
Our world is changing very rapidly and many of our citizens view these challenges as beyond their control. But we also have a contradiction here. For the first time, humanity has the knowledge, technology, and capital to chart a common course to solve global problems like poverty. In fact, through the “make poverty history” campaign, many have argued that in the next ten or twenty years, poverty could be wiped out.
But in order to achieve this, we need global governance tools based on equality, democracy, and the real participation of all peoples, ethnic groups and citizens on our planet. This is not an easy task. On the other hand, the problems of humanity cannot be solved based on the strategic interests of a few powerful nations. We should be talking about our common global interests.
Besides the world’s superpower, the United States, new regions and nations like China, India and Latin America are emerging as powerful international players.
Existing challenges, such as terrorism, organised crime, drug, arms and human trafficking, environmental protection and sustainable energy, disease, and illegal migration all require global cooperation. This calls for strong global institutions. This is the great challenge for leaders and citizens alike in the years to come. We need a strategic vision based firmly on humane values, which can break down dogmatic ideologies and overcome confrontational deadlock. Recent history teaches us that no nation, however powerful, can single-handedly solve the complex issues of our globalised society, and that no solution can be imposed unilaterally, because this only causes trauma and complicates the possibility of a lasting solution.
Since its foundation, PASOK has supported a foreign policy based on democratic values, international law, and international treaties. We continue to defend peace, democracy, and cooperation, the peaceful resolution of differences, solidarity with developing nations, and respect for human and minority rights.
Global developments have created new centres of power, but have also weakened the role of the United Nations. This undermining of the authority and legitimacy of the United Nations poses a new threat. Instead of heading toward a more united international community, there is a rising trend toward unilateral actions by UN member states.
The problems and challenges that globalisation brings in its wake on a daily basis require a more modern, democratic, and multilateral form of governance. We need new initiatives to restructure the international system, including reform of the UN and other multilateral institutions.
This is, of course, one of the primary goals of the Socialist International, the biggest political organisation in the world, with over 160 member parties and 60 or 70 new parties that want to become members. Around 60 of our member parties are currently in government all over the world. The Socialist International has reiterated the need for actions to bolster the UN, as well as other international institutions. We urgently need good global governance based on democratic legitimacy so that we can effectively address critical issues such as regional crises, the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and inequalities between developing and developed nations.
Within this global context, for Greece, the EU is very important and has great responsibilities. I would say that we are concerned to see that instead of greater unification – and I do not simply mean enlargement, although this is an important element too, but also a deepening of the EU – there is a worrying tendency towards loosening ties and an awkwardness and uncertainty about where our Union is headed.
The process of European integration is the most important historical achievement of post-war Europe. I would add that this achievement is an inspiration for many other parts of the world and is in fact a model – not something to be applied mechanically, but a different perspective for Asia, Latin America, Africa, or elsewhere.
The European model offers us a positive perspective on globalisation. We combine our strengths and pool our resources to address important global issues, such as the environment, economic competition, and so on.
We want a Europe of peace, democracy, human rights, with a competitive economy based on knowledge, innovation and research, with an effective welfare state that protects workers’ rights and creates jobs, that promotes social cohesion and solidarity, and bridges the gaps between nations, regions and citizens.
We support a Europe of open, tolerant societies where cultural and religious differences are respected, and immigrants are integrated and not marginalised. We socialists regard immigrants as an asset, not a threat to our nations.
We want a Europe that is a strong and trustworthy partner in the international political and economic arena, a Europe that shows solidarity with the developing world, a Europe that is ready to deepen its common defence, security and foreign policies.
For us, the common market cannot be anything but a tool for EU development and convergence, which will complement many other policies aimed at deepening and unifying the EU.
However, to move forward we must continue the unification in Europe. This is where institutional paralysis and ideological deadlock are holding us back. In fact, I am afraid the most recent decisions of the European Council will heighten euro-scepticism and alienate European citizens. Who will benefit? This will benefit the forces of nationalism, populism, and ethnic sectarianism.
So I believe our fears for the EU is similar to our fears for the international community – fears about the divided, ethnocentric policies of individual states, which will dissipate the power and effectiveness of Europe.
We need a bold approach to overcome this crisis. Because time and global developments are not working in favour of the EU.
I believe we must examine two key points – I could add a third, social and economic cohesion. But there are two main political factors we must consider. On the one hand, we must have stronger and more effective decision-making instruments in the EU; in other words, we must strengthen the central mechanisms in terms of their ability to reach decisions. This must be balanced with measures to reduce the democratic deficit; in other words, we must increase citizen participation and give civil society a greater say in EU affairs.
The recent conclusion drawn by the EU Summit that we need more time for reflection is of course not really a decision at all. It merely extends this sense of uncertainty. This is of course related to the European Constitution. There are arguably two approaches here. One approach would be to find ways to modify the existing Constitution, so that with some small changes it would be accepted as the new European Constitution. This approach does not address the deeper problem in Europe, which is that many citizens not only do not identify with this particular Constitution, they are also very sceptical about the future course of our great European family.
This is why I believe we must try a different approach. A Constitution that will essentially have two parts. One part that constitutes our basic principles and shared values. This could be the subject of a broad debate, so that our common values – whether we are Greeks, Swedes, English, French, German, Austrian, Irish or anything else – are defined from the bottom up.
On the other hand, we need to engage in a dialogue about how we reach our decisions. To agree on a permanent decision-making process capable tof addressing current policy issues. Apart from some exceptions, current policies should not be the subject of referendums or ratification by national parliaments, but a mater for EU bodies such as the European Parliament, Council, Commission, and Court.
However, all this must be achieved while strengthening democracy and giving our citizens greater control over European decisions. From this perspective, I believe we could move forward with a dual process of deepening and strengthening EU institutions, while also deepening democratisation so that every citizen feels part of an extended family, where his or her voice is heard and interests are protected.
In PASOK, as a modern, progressive party of the European centre-left, our foreign policy is based on this important advantage: that we belong to the European family. We believe that we can best protect our national interests within a common European framework, rather than through isolation or introspection. We are making a decisive contribution to the development of a European strategy in important policy areas, and we are preparing to govern Greece again armed with a modern, strategic plan for a strong nation in a strong, pioneering EU. We have both the political will and experience to take the lead in European developments.
I would like to say a few words on our relations with the United States. Both as a nation and as a member of the EU, we want to strengthen our relationship with the US in all areas of mutual interest on an equal basis. Developing good relations does not mean that we will always agree. We have often disagreed with the strategic choices of the US administration.
Not so long ago, Greece suffered a traumatic experience. I was a child, but I have vivid memories of the seven year dictatorship that oppressed the Greek people, took away their basic rights, and provoked a national disaster – the division of Cyprus. This experience has been identified with American support for the dictatorship in Greece and US policy towards Greece throughout the Cold War. When President Clinton came to Greece, he took a courageous step in accepting responsibility and essentially made a public apology to the Greek people. This was a very brave and historic decision, which we very much appreciated.
However, this does not mean that the Greek people is not especially sensitive about these events, which to a great extent reflects the sensitivities of the Greek people regarding American unilateralism, whether in Iraq, Kosovo, or elsewhere. Of course, US actions were not entirely unilateral in Kosovo, but in general people feel that America prefers to go it alone.
On a bilateral basis, Greece has gradually developed good relations with the US, after a number of painful experiences. When my father Andreas Papandreou visited President Clinton, he said that a long cycle in our bilateral relations had closed. Our bilateral relations are now on a much more positive course.
At the global level, I would say that the US is facing a critical dilemma, which affects all of us. As a superpower, one has the impression that the US acts… like the US. This may sound obvious, but I believe the US should not just act as a superpower, but should act as the power that has the greatest responsibility to address the major issues facing our planet. This means that the US should help the planet, strengthen international institutions, and strengthen a system of global governance based on common values and principles.
Unfortunately, polls show that a great many citizens around the world see the US following the law of the powerful and not the power of the law. This creates fear and insecurity. When you follow the law of the powerful, the other side does not know how you will react. When you follow the rule of law, both sides commit to operate within the same framework. If the US wishes to play the role of a great superpower, it has a responsibility to strengthen a global system of values.
As I mentioned, we can cooperate with the US on many levels, both on a bilateral basis and within the EU framework. But we also have different strategies on a host of issues, such how we deal with the democratisation of the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Socialist International has a different perspective on democratisation. We believe it is impossible to democratise a society by imposing democracy from above. Democracy has to come through real dialogue and real cooperation.
One of the goals of the Socialist International, together with many Arab, Muslim and Asian nations, is to contribute to such a dialogue – a dialogue of cultures but also a dialogue between parties that will unlock the potential for liberalisation of these societies, through a process of democratisation.
We also have different views about how we deal with trans-national terrorism. Not that we do not unanimously condemn terrorism, but we believe this phenomenon must be tackled in a different way.
We have also called for the Guantanamo Bay detention centre to be closed immediately. We have expressed our disagreement with a unilateral approach to international and regional problems.
We are well aware that we share common democratic values with the American people. We want to build a new global community based on those values.
Now I would like to talk about Russia and China. The new global reality calls for EU initiatives to build relationships with Russia and China. We must leave mutual distrust behind and work together on critical issues, with respect for international rules and institutions. Russia and China are dynamic global players and their role in shaping a new international balance will be decisive.
Russia went through a very difficult period ten years ago and is still going through a transitional stage, but I am sure Russia will play an increasingly important role, not only in the field of energy but in other areas too.
That is why despite different approaches on several issues, the EU should approach Russia and China as potential partners, not potential threats.
On this note, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the families of the four employees of the Russian Embassy in Baghdad who were murdered by their abductors. My condolences also to the people and leaders of Russia.
We condemn such acts of blind violence and reiterate our call for more effective policies to defeat international terrorism.
As far as the Balkans are concerned, the European perspective provides a real incentive for the people of the region. Our vision for the Balkans in the 21st century is a peaceful, prosperous and secure neighbourhood of Europe. The EU provides the incentive to implement political, social and economic reforms, but also to defuse tensions between nations and ethnic groups, to move on from the past so the region can become a pillar of the EU. During my tenure as Foreign Minister, the PASOK government followed a proactive strategy to stabilise the Balkans by applying European standards and rules, leading towards eventual EU membership. The culmination of this strategy was the 2003 EU summit in Thessaloniki when the western Balkans, Bulgaria and Romania got the green light to begin accession talks.
We have always supported Bulgaria and Romania’s EU accession. In the next six months, their political leaders must step up their efforts to fight corruption and organised crime, to modernise the legal system, and protect human and minority rights. Time is running out, but much can still be done. Not a day should be wasted. We believe that Bulgaria and Romania’s accession should not be delayed, as this would have negative consequences for the entire region. The hopes and expectations of the people of both nations must not be let down. But the remaining six months will be crucial.
Bulgaria and Romania’s entry into the the EU will send a very important message to the region. First, it will demonstrate that the Balkans belong in Europe. Second, it will be important for Greece because for the first time our borders will be connected with the rest of the EU.
For the fist time, three Balkan nations will participate in EU decisions. This will highlight the strategic significance of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, with our borders with the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, and Central Asia, areas rich in oil and natural gas reserves that will play an important role in the future. These countries can become hubs for transporting energy resources to western Europe, if the necessary infrastructure is developed. In this way, we can also help develop more effective EU energy policy.
As part of our strategy to create comprehensive energy infrastructure for the Balkans, Greece’s PASOK governments worked to build the natural gas pipeline between Burgas and Alexandroupolis, as well as networks to transport for natural gas through Turkey. We laid the foundations for the Energy Community of Southeast Europe, which has had very positive consequences. As EU Commissioner for Energy, Christos Papoutsis played a vital role in this process.
The EU strategy for the Balkans will be deficient and will create problems if it does not include the Western Balkans. Lately, because of an upsurge in euro-scepticism, the Western Balkans have been getting mixed messages. I believe it would be a grave mistake if we stall the European perspective of the Western Balkans because we would lose the basic lever for peace, cooperation, development, and democratisation in the region. Europe will lose a great opportunity. Our region could once again become mired in instability and conflict.
Stabilisation and association agreements, regional cooperation, and the creation of free trade zones cannot replace the strategic goal of accession. This is the only way to combat nationalism and promote reformist policies and democratic institutions in all the countries of our region. And at last the Balkans – a market of 65 million people, or double that along with Turkey – can make great leaps forward in terms of development.
Regarding the status of Kosovo, I would like to point out that discussions and decisions should not undermine two things: First, the security and stability of the region. I have pointed out repeatedly that a crisis in one neighbourhood could easily spill over and affect others. For example, the talk about independence for Kosovo has triggered a reaction from Bosnia-Herzegovina. It has sparked negative reactions in Serbia and Voyvondina. It may also have repercussions in FYROM. This must be taken into consideration before any final decision is made.
Second, we must not forget the European perspective of the region. I would argue that the EU has basically been absent from the discussions. The issue would be much simpler if the final status, whatever it may be, was more closely linked with the accession prospects of the Western Balkans. Whatever the final status, it must be linked with the EU accession of both Kosovo and Serbia.
In my view, we must be very careful because negotiations could have a positive outcome if we can find a solution through a realistic European perspective; but there would be a negative outcome if we omit the European perspective from a solution that may well be imposed by external powers, leaving much bitterness and many open wounds behind.
This brings me onto Serbia, which is a source of concern because there is a continuous tendency towards isolation. Serbia is a major factor for regional stability. The Serbian people cannot be held hostage by history and continue to pay for the mistakes of the past.
Freezing the EU stabilisation and association agreements does not help internal political stability, nor does it help Serbia overcome isolation. On the contrary, it strengthens extremist forces that could destabilise Serbia’s peaceful revolution to overthrow Milosevic. The EU must take new initiatives, rather than resort to dogmatic and inflexible positions.
In Montenegro, all parties agreed to a divorce. We have a new nation that reflects the will of the Montenegrin people. I would like to congratulate them for realising their vision. We welcome the Republic of Montenegro to the family of sovereign nations.
Finally, in terms of our relations with our neighbour FYROM, I believe the framework of European integration, and our otherwise good bilateral relations, we must find the necessary political will to find a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue. A solution that reflects the historic and geographic realities of the region.
I hope the elections in FYROM next week will be held in accordance with international standards.
As far as Turkey is concerned, I had the opportunity and I would say the challenge of being one of the architects of our new policy towards our neighbour. When I was Foreign Minister, our goal was to give Turkey the prospect of joining the EU. Through this step-by-step perspective, we were gradually able to establish common values. These common values should be the basis of resolving our differences over Cyprus or other bilateral issues.
We paved the way for Turkey’s candidacy in Helsinki in 1999. I worked very hard for this candidacy to be real – not just a label, but a real candidacy. What did this mean? That Turkey could hope to become a full EU member, not just a country with a special relationship. On the other hand, Turkey would have to fulfil all the obligations of any EU candidate, including internal reforms and peaceful relations with its neighbours. This strategy was adopted in 1999 because it was in the interests of Greece, Turkey, and Europe. It is in the interests of the Greek people, of Europe and the whole region.
We want peace and cooperation in the region. We want the Cyprus stalemate to be solved. We want the issue of the continental shelf to be solved. All this will have positive consequences for the region and give precedence to positive priorities like economic development rather than an arms race. Our aim has always been to contribute to a solution that will persuade Turkey to adopt good neighbourly relations, respect for international law, respect for territorial sovereignty and the peaceful resolution of differences.
We also want to encourage the necessary internal reforms in Turkey, because for us respect for religious and ethnic minorities is a fundamental human right. Of course, we are especially concerned about the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Despite the heightened tensions and a heated debate this process had generated in Turkey, I believe it will ultimately be positive for Turkey because it will provide a clear framework in which all these issues will cease to be problems for Turkey.
Our European strategy is designed to achieve all these objectives in the most effective way. To create the framework that would convince Turkey to accept the rule of law rather than the law of the powerful. Turkey EU candidacy and Cyprus’ EU accession were landmarks in creating the conditions for just and viable solutions to regional problems. Our position has always been clear and consistent. We say yes to Turkey’s European future, yes to full accession, not a special relationship. I believe this is a very important message for Turkey. The mixed messages of some member states do not help Turkey make the necessary changes, nor create the necessary conditions within the EU for Turkey to join in the future.
We say yes to the further improvement of relations between Greece and Turkey within the EU framework, as we agreed in 1999. I would like to remind you that as an EU candidate Turkey has assumed responsibilities towards the Union and all other member states. It must respect and fulfil these obligations without exception. This includes the implementation of the Customs Union with new EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.
In the EU is a community of common values where all citizens can coexist – Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Greeks, Turks, Serbs, Croats, or Albanians. A community of values where we solve our problems peacefully, we understand each other, and look out for our common interests instead of our differences.
All this creates new possibilities for win-win solutions. The faster we solve problems like the Cyprus issue and the continental shelf, the sooner we will be able to stop the dog fights over the Aegean, the sooner we will be able to have an even more constructive relationship. I believe Turkey appreciates the fact that Greece can be a strong ally on its path toward Europe, just as Greece supported Turkey at Helsinki and afterwards, playing a decisive role in bringing Turkey closer to Europe.
Solving the Cyprus problem is a matter of urgency. It is not an easy task, but the ongoing division of the island only serves those who wish to legitimise the status quo. Despite the best efforts of the international community, Cyprus remained divided when it joined the EU. The invasion and illegal military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus is an international problem. We must not abandon our efforts to reunite the island so that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots can enjoy the full benefits of EU membership.
A reunited Cyprus would promote peace and cooperation in the region, but also heal the wounds between Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. We must support all efforts to find a solution for Cyprus within the framework of UN resolutions, EU treaties and the European acquis. I emphasise the European acquis because any solution must allow Cyprus to participate effectively and fully in an enlarged Union like any other member state, without exception or discrimination. This is the only way that guarantees the equal participation of all the citizens of Cyprus, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, in the EU.
Having criticised the New Democracy government for two and a half years for dragging its feet and lacking initiative, whether on bilateral issues, on Cyprus or on Turkey’s EU path, after the collision of a Greek and a Turkish military jet resulted in the tragic death of a Greek air force pilot I decided to take a political initiative. I elaborated a new national strategy towards Turkey. A strategy to promote peace and security in our bilateral relations.
This new strategy, which I have discussed with all Greece’s party leaders and the President, provides a comprehensive guarantee of our sovereign rights and national interests. This strategy shows Turkey the way to respect international law. It shows that we can solve our problems within the framework of international law, the principle of good neighbourly relations, and the values on which the EU is based. This strategy will guarantee stability in the region and bring back a sense of security to all Greeks.
The basic objectives of this national strategy are first of all the effective defence of our territorial rights. Second, promoting lasting peace in the region. Third, the economic and social development of Greece through the reduction of military expenditures.
We must begin with specific confidence-building measures steps to reduce tension. We must engage in systematic bilateral dialogue until we reach the point where we can exercise our rights in the Aegean in a spirit of understanding and friendship. We should go to the Hague to solve the issue of the continental shelf.
I would now like to talk about security and human rights, especially in relation to terrorism. On the one hand, we need to confront international terrorism robustly. But this cannot be done outside our basic democratic responsibility to defend the rights and freedoms of all our citizens.
It would be our failure and a victory for terrorism if dealing with terrorists resulted in weakening our democratic traditions, undermining our democratic institutions, and reducing the freedom that every citizen deserves. Our common goal is to defeat terrorism and extremism. But all our actions to this end must defend the values we espouse. I am deeply troubled by the violation of human rights in the name of the war against terror. This is not just a Greek phenomenon, but is also happening in Europe and the US.
A cultural dialogue between the West and Islam should not be limited to an exchange of opinions. In the Socialist International, we regard the dialogue of cultures as an opportunity to define the core values that unite our member parties, whether they represent societies that are essentially Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or nations like India with many different religious roots. Ultimately, global governance has to be based on common values. The Socialist International can play an important role in shaping these core values.
We support the UN initiative led by Zapatero and Erdogan to support greater mutual understanding between cultures.
This brings us to the issue of Iran and the Middle East, which I visited a few days ago as President of the Socialist International. In Iran, I met the Secretary of the National Security Council and Chief Negotiator of the Nuclear Programme, Mr. Ali Laritzani, as well as the Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, and the President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Of course, I voiced the concerns of the international community and the Socialist International about Iran’s nuclear programme. We have no objection to nations developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but the international community needs the necessary guarantees that there will not be a proliferation of nuclear weapons.
My impression was that if we can overcome the chronic distrust on both sides, and avoid the strong emotions that define Iran’s relations with many countries, I am sure a solution can be found. With the necessary political will, we can avoid conflict. A peaceful solution is possible, that will benefit the whole region. There will be no losers, only the prospect of wider cooperation. Iran could play a strategic role in promoting regional peace, cooperation, and economic development together with Europe and the international community.
I believe this positive climate could also affect developments in the wider Middle East, especially the Palestinian issue. A negotiated agreement would bring hope that the course of history in this troubled region can change.
Having spoken earlier with Mr. El Baradei, with Nicholas Burns, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs yesterday, and the day before with EU Foreign Relations chief Javier Solana, I would like to say something that may not be very diplomatic. It would be silly not to find a solution. It would not only be silly, it would be criminal. If the political will exists, we can find a way to bring both sides together. On our part, we have stated clearly that we will not accept another Iraq situation in Iran.
Of course, Iran’s nuclear programme is part of a general atmosphere of heightened tension between the West and Islam which has many dimensions.
Greece can and should take the lead in negotiations, given its position between the West and the Arab world. We have lived with the Arab world for centuries. We know this world; we have always had friendly relations with this world, so we can act as a bridge of understanding between the two sides. Greece needs to be daring and not shirk from taking a stand on the world stage.
I took the initiative to engage with Iran as President of the Socialist International. We believe there must be a diplomatic solution within the framework of international law and the UN.
Both the Socialist International and PASOK have always taken a stand against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Many years ago, the founder of PASOK, Andreas Papandreou, took the so-called “initiative of six” together with Olaf Palme, Raul Alfonsin, Gandhi, Julius Nyerere, and Miguel de la Madrid. It was an important initiative aimed at the reduction of nuclear weapons. In this spirit and tradition, the Socialist International has taken a new initiative for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the reduction of existing nuclear arsenals. It is vital that this issue becomes a priority for the international community.Otherwise we may have repercussions that will have deadly consequences for the future of humanity.
A few days ago, I also visited Israel. I was scheduled to have a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas, but I arrived shortly before conflict between Israelis and Palestinians erupted in Gaza. I did meet with Israel’s new Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and Defence Minister, Amir Peretz.
We have been watching recent developments unfold with increasing alarm. This could lead to a dangerous escalation of violence. We cannot resolve problems or bring peace to the region by resorting to military incursions and kidnappings. I hope Israel will allow enough time for diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the Israeli soldier who has been taken hostage. Above all, we hope he returns alive. I called on all sides to defuse the situation and use the utmost restraint, so that we do not mourn more victims, especially innocent civilians.
Having dealt with the Middle East for many years, I am convinced that a new international initiative, within the framework of the Quartet and the road map, is now necessary. Many Israelis and Palestinians support the view that we need a parallel initiative at the regional level. A regional conference would create a new momentum and establish the framework to start fresh negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The Socialist International will take specific initiatives to this end.
In closing, I would like to say that Greece and the Greek people have fought hard to create a framework to effectively address the challenges of our era.
For PASOK, this is a struggle to support our values, a struggle for a strong, effective voice in the region, fighting for stability, democracy, peace and respect for international law.
We fought hard during the Olympic Games to promote the Olympic Truce. I would like to thank all the Ambassadors here for their support, which led to a unanimous endorsement of the Olympic Truce by the UN. Our goal is to create a moment that unites the whole world in peace. This was the essence of the ancient Olympics, which did not begin as a cultural and athletic event. The first Olympic Games were held to allow for a ceasefire between warring factions in the Peloponnese. The Olympic Truce has been around for 1,000 years. I hope that in the next Olympics in Beijing, the Olympic Truce will have greater impact with the support of the Olympic movement and China.
These are the new foreign policy priorities for Greece, which will shape the new struggles and achievements of the Greek people
Thank you very much.”