Ο Υφυπουργός Εξωτερικών, κ. Κώστας Βλάσης, απηύθυνε χαιρετισμό κατά την έκτακτη πανηγυρική συνεδρία της Ακαδημίας Αθηνών, όπου η Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας κ. Σακελλαροπούλου, παρουσία του Πρωθυπουργού κ. Μητσοτάκη, απένειμε το διεθνές βραβείο Lord Byron σε εξέχουσες προσωπικότητες από τον χώρο της πολιτικής, του πνεύματος και των επιχειρήσεων. Φέτος βραβεύθηκαν ο πρώην Γερουσιαστής και Υπουργός των ΗΠΑ κ. John Kerry, ο Γάλλος πρώην Υπουργός κ. Jack Lang και ο Ελβετός τραπεζίτης και γνωστός φιλέλληνας κ. Charles Pictet. Η τελετή απονομής τελεί υπό την αιγίδα του Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών και συνδιοργανώνεται με την Εταιρεία για τον Ελληνισμό και τον Φιλελληνισμό.
Αναλυτικά η ομιλία του Υφυπουργού Εξωτερικών:
Your Excellency Madame President,
Honorable Prime Minister,
I am deeply honored to address such a distinguished audience at the historic building of the Academy of Athens. I would like to warmly congratulate the Society of Hellenism and Philhellenism for the initiative to establish the International Lord Byron award. It is, undoubtedly, an indispensable tool of extroversion for our country, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs embraced it since the very first moment.
2021 marks two hundred years since the beginning of the creation of the Modern Greek state. This is a very important moment for our Nation. The Greek Revolution is a monumental chapter in our nation’s long history; “Freedom or Death” became the dominant motto of the time, triggering an unprecedented wave of mobilization of the international public opinion and of Greeks of Diaspora. Philhellenes, who believed they served a civic duty to assist Greece in achieving its independence.
Τhe word Philhellenism derives from the Greek word “φίλος” which means friend. Hellenism condenses the appreciation for Greek language, Culture and Civilization. As an organic part of the socio-historical realities taking place in Europe during the 18th and 19th century, the intellectual movement of Hellenism inspired the Philhellenes to dream of a Greece liberated from the Ottoman yoke. This enthusiasm for classical Greece endowed the mankind some of the greatest masterpieces in literature, poetry, music, sculpture, architecture and arts.
“We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece”, said Percy Bysshe Shelley, marking the importance of Hellenic heritage.
Philhellenism was not only restricted to art but also influenced the political sphere of that era. Many nation-states in Europe have followed the footsteps of Greece with the aim to achieve self-determination and unification. Quoting the Director of the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King’s, Professor Roderick Beaton: “The history of nation-states in the world today begins with Greece’s achievement of the 1820s. Europe owes a debt to modern Greece, to those who fought to set Greece free and all those who have consolidated that achievement ever since”.
We are grateful to the Philhellenes, who founded numerous societies in order to support the Greek cause; who donated an important amount of their property to provide the Greek fighters with ammunition, clothing and money. We are grateful to the volunteers who traveled to Greece, not only risking their health but, in many cases, sacrificing their lives for our Independence. And to all those Philhellenes who went against the grain of the political status quo of their era and changed the international public opinion by illustrating the universal ideals of humanism, self-determination, democracy and freedom.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We pay today homage to three prominent Philhellenes:
- Mr. John Kerry.
- Mr. Jack Lang, and
- Mr. Charles Pictet.
Three people who constitute examples of contemporary Philhellenism.
By honoring these prominent Philhellenes, we pay respect to those who fought for our freedom. We pay respect to those heroes who rushed to help Greece, and even sacrificed their lives and fortune for our just cause. Their idealism sets an example for today’s generation. In the new, globalized environment, Philhellenes remind us of the important values that we need to safeguard.
I would like to congratulate all three awarded. I also want to congratulate the Society for Hellenism and Philhellenism, for the establishment of the International Lord Byron award and the today’s great event. It is an opportunity to remember that the selfless contribution to a cause is what makes mankind evolve. As Lord Byron said: “They never fail who die in a great cause.”