We would like to thank the Mayor and the Municipality of Rhodes for their generous hospitality throughout the 17th edition of the Rhodes Forum, and for the opportunity to enjoy dinner in the beautiful surroundings of the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes.
Below is a speech kindly given to us by the Mayor of Rhodes:
Rhodes, 11 October 2019
Dear Chairman, Mr. Yakunin,
Your Highness, Your Excellencies,
Ladies & gentlemen,
It is an honor and a privilege for me to welcome you, as the Mayor of Rhodes, and to greet all participants of the International Forum for the Dialogue of Civilizations, which has established itself throughout the years as a world-class institution. It truly honors all Rhodians to host this group of eminent personalities from around the world, particularly for something so urgently needed as a dialogue on major global issues.
Those of you who have been to our island before, I hope that your stay satisfies your desire to visit Rhodes again. For those of you who are here for the first time, I hope you discover and enjoy our island as much as possible, within your busy schedules, and that you become our distinguished friends. I would also like to congratulate the organizers, and to especially thank Vladimir Yakunin, for his true love for Rhodes, which he continuously proves all these years.
Rhodes is not only a beautiful and hospitable place. It has spirit, history, and culture. It is a crossroads of civilizations, which have left their imprint over the years, from ancient to modern times. And this tradition continues to the present day, with the hosting of major international events, crested with the EEC Summit in 1998. A summit, followed by the Rhodes Declaration, which saw the participation of leaders of great political status, such as President Mitterrand, Lady Thatcher, and Chancellor Kohl. Consequently, I would say that Rhodes is also, in a symbolic manner, the ideal place to promote global dialogue, and from our part as the new Municipal Authority of the Island, we are investing with vision and program in this direction, by respecting our history and tradition.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Everything shows that the world around us is changing. New issues are being put on the global political agenda. In the modern world these issues face no borders, and require immediate solutions. Securing new sources of energy and managing existing ones, environmental and climate change, terrorism, migration, and rapid developments in technology, are some of these issues that constitute an even more complex international scene. At the same time, the existing problems which concern the international community appear to be acquiring new features, that shape them in a completely different way. In this radically changing global environment, it is necessary to redefine, and above all, innovate. After all, new ideas have always been the driving force in history, especially when we had to overcome dead-ends, and reshape societal structures. Nothing is as it used to be. The international chessboard is now more complex and more diverse, as the number of participating players is growing, and the deck of global balance is being re-dealt.
The issue of global understanding, and cooperation, is the most critical in this historical context. That is why there must be initiatives, actions, and broad consensus, with meaningful content. Not a dialogue of fireworks, but a dialogue that will lead to an agreement on the type of society we want to build in the 21st century. We require a framework of goals for the world, that we strive for, for us and for our children. A framework that must be directly linked to safeguarding human rights on a global scale, to achieving sustainable development, and to building an emancipated mindset, towards the cataclysmic technological changes of our times.
In this respect, the agenda of this year’s Forum is extremely important, and interesting, given the current geopolitical developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. The strategic choice of Greece, as an old EU and NATO member in the wider region, shows the respect for international law, as Greece looks forward to a peaceful neighbourhood, and to a zone of cooperation, security, and development.
In conclusion, I would like to refer to Aristotle’s famous phrase: “Every deficiency, and excess, corrupts. The middle saves.” We are called upon to find and follow the virtue of the middle; the virtue of the midway, and the avoidance of extremes. As the ancient Greeks taught us, insult is followed by nemesis. And this is something that all international agents should take into account, when they shape the new architecture of our world.
Thank you for your attention, and I wish you every success in your work during this Forum.
I am looking forward to its conclusions.
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