H.E. Ambassador George Georgiou
Director of Cultural Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
I would like to welcome you here tonight on behalf of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This Hellenic-Czech Cultural Symposium, organised by the Biopolitics International Organisation, and attended by so many distinguished guests, promises to be a great success.
This is not the first time that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had the pleasure of standing by the Biopolitics International Organisation. Last summer, the International Sakharov Festival, with the theme Biopolitics – The Bio-Environment – Bio-Culture in the Next Millennium, was held in Athens, under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and provided a unique opportunity for international co-operation on both cultural and environmental issues.
As a necessary aspiration for the next millennium, an international bio- culture can bring the people of the world together, regardless of national, ideological, religious or cultural differences. In his speech at the International Sakharov Festival, H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Karolos Papoulias, hailed bio-culture as the means to achieve unity among all people, and a way for each of us to discover a new creative role: that of appreciating bios on our planet.
Today, as in the past, under the distinguished leadership of Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis, we are once again given the chance to channel scientific, diplomatic and economic potential towards respecting and protecting the bio- environment. Efforts such as hers have been widely appreciated by the world community. Recently, in recognition of her outstanding contribution, Dr. Arvanitis has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I salute H.E. the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, Professor Jiri Marvan, and the distinguished delegation from the Czech Republic, and hope this meeting will reinforce our efforts to promote international understanding and the harmonious co-existence of all forms of life.
H.E. Ambassador Jiri Marvan
Ambassador of the Czech Republic
It is a special honour to address this distinguished gathering and to bring best regards from my country, the Czech Republic. Coming here to Greece and to this beautiful and remarkable city, we know that we are coming to friends. But this friendship does not imply that we are identical twins: we might be brothers, but not identical twins. We believe that this difference is a glorious thing, because, as a Latin proverb says: “Things that are different are beautiful”. The purpose of our meeting is to search for these differences, to search for the variety of angles we each approach this world from, and to find ways to improve this world.
When considering the fact that every country has its own contribution to make to our mutual effort to better this world, I must also think, of course, of my own country. I cannot help thinking about our President’s ideas, a person who could easily be an honorary member of the Biopolitics International Organisation. Recently, in Philadelphia, he said that one of the best ways each of us can contribute to make this world better, is to try to understand oneself, to transform oneself and, through this transformation, try to understand other people. We call this self-transcendence. The first pioneers of self transcendence are the scholars who do not function in isolation, but who seek to understand other scholars and scientists.
I think that this is the monumental purpose of our discussion. It is to create one family, one unit. This unit, though comprised of different entities, is capable of achieving a great deal. Let me, however, point out that self-transcendence can be applied in many ways. Bio-diplomacy is an example. A diplomat must try to understand other diplomats, other people and other countries in order to perform his duty properly. Another example is the learning of foreign languages. Anyone who learns a foreign language is reaching out to other people. This is the framework of what we strive for, the spiritual aspect of scholarship and of biopolitics and something which has been called bio-culture and bio-ethics.
Let me conclude by saying that something wonderful has been happening in my country during the last five years. This is the triumphant revival of democracy. Let me remind you of something which took place five years ago and was very symbolic. It concerns the Russian tanks which originally came to “liberate” my country. Five years ago this symbol of Russian dominance, this symbol of war, was painted pink. I wish that all the tanks in the world would be painted pink and that we would no longer have war.
I wish this gathering every success, and hope the participants make new friend-ships and new relationships, setting an example for co-operation in the next millennium.
H.E. Ambassador Panayotis Economou
Public and International Affairs Advisor
Biopolitics International Organisation
The well-known French scholar and philosopher Edgar Morin when asked which country he came from, answered: “My country is our planet, the Earth“. I think one could not agree more with Edgar Morin’s perception of citizenship. In fact we are all citizens of the earth and we are all condemned to living under the same sky and to sharing the same environmental conditions affecting our globe. Our life – our bios – is directly influenced by the nonsensical use of modern technology and the lack of respect for the moral and aesthetic values forming the very essence of our civilisation.
Today, it is generally agreed that modern society is going through a deep environmental crisis. The question which arises and which is addressed to both governments and private citizens is: What can be done to cope with this problem?
Since its inception in 1985, one of the many tasks of the Biopolitics International Organisation has been to alert public opinion and policy-makers, around the world, to the impact of technology on the bio-environment. Through numerous international conferences and seminars, B.I.O. has been promoting the view that protection of the bio-environment and economic development are interrelated goals. Furthermore, economic development cannot be sustained if natural resources deteriorate.
This is equally valid for national economies and for the world economy as a whole, if we admit that the deterioration of the environment does not recognise ideological or geographic boundaries. All countries, irrespective of their immediate geographic neighbourhood, depend on each other, since the ill effects from the misuse of natural resources and the decline of values, threaten the very essence of the quality of life, not to mention the survival of humankind.
We, therefore, have to assess priorities and introduce new, universal policies, compatible with the laws of nature. These polices would include, among other things, implementing sustainable agricultural techniques, improving energy efficiency, developing renewable energy sources, developing efficient and cleaner technology, and above all, increasing foresight in policy development.
Much is known about how to achieve these goals. Still much remains to be done. In this respect, bio-diplomacy could contribute to the development of bio-policies based on a world-wide commitment to promote these goals. But, ultimately, progress depends on the will of political decision-makers.
Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry
I feel honoured to have the opportunity of welcoming all the distinguished guests from the Czech Republic, on behalf of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mr. John Papathanasiou, the President of the Board of Directors, is currently travelling abroad and could not be with us tonight, but he has asked me to convey his warmest wishes for a successful and fruitful symposium.
The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry has extended its full support to this important event, which aims both at strengthening the friendship between the Czech Republic and Greece, and promoting the noble goal of respecting and protecting the environment. Moreover, the Chamber aspires to the establishment of close co-operation with the Biopolitics International Organisation, in order to make environmental protection a priority in society.
I wish to thank all symposium participants and distinguished guests, and wish you every success in your commendable endeavour.
Ambassador George Georgiou holds a degree in Economics from the Athens University of Economics and Business Sciences and has been with the Greek Diplomatic Service since 1971. He has held positions as Consul of Greece in Naples, Charge d’Affairs in Jeddah, Consul of Greece in Benghazi, Consul General of Greece in Cairo and Johannesburg, as well as Director of the Division of Special Economic Affairs, Chief of Protocol and Director of Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1992-1994, he was President of the Union of Greek Diplomats. Mr. Georgiou is currently the Ambassador of Greece in Beirut.
Ambassador Jiri Marvan, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Greece, completed his tertiary education at the Charles University Faculty of Philosophy, in Prague, and has since, spent close to thirty years teaching in universities in Sweden, Australia and the United States. His teaching and research activities have focused on linguistics, sociology, and European studies. Upon his return to Czechoslovakia, in 1992, he held a position at Charles University, before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the capacity of Ministerial Counsellor. Ambassador Marvan is the author of many books and articles on scholarly topics, journalism and poetry. He is Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and Professorial Fellow at Monash University in Melbourne. He is also recipient of several awards, including the Fellowship of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (1983) and the Golden Cross of Merit (1992) for the Promotion of Polish Culture and Economy. His name appears in over ten international biographical dictionaries, including the Who’s Who in the World (Marquis, Chicago).
Ambassador Panayotis Economou, former Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is Advisor on International and Public Relations for the Biopolitics International Organisation. He has served as Consul of Greece in Istanbul and Consul General of Greece in Munich (1970-1973); Ambassador of Greece in Teheran (1975-1979), The Hague (1981-1987), Madrid (1987-1990). He is recipient of the Grand Star and Grand Decoration of Honour (Austria); Grand Commander of the Order of the Lion (Senegal); Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Holland); Officer of the Order of the Phoenix; Officer of the Order of King George I and Commander of the Order of the Phoenix.
Panos Panettas is Vice-President of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) and also serves as the Chamber’s designated delegate at national and international conferences in Greece and abroad. A graduate of the Department of Political Science and Economics of the University of Freiburg in Germany, he has been involved with business and industry since 1962. Among several corporate positions that he has held over the years, Mr. Panettas has been on the Board of Directors of AGET S.A., Vice-President of ALPHA BLOCK S.A., Vice-President of the Commercial Department of ERT S.A. and Managing Director of BIOKRE S.A.