Athens Democracy Discussion board turns 10


In October 2012, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was the keynote speaker on the IHT World Dialog, an occasion to mark the a hundred and twenty fifth anniversary of the Worldwide Herald Tribune in Paris. A 12 months later, IHT grew to become The Worldwide New York Instances, additionally finishing 15 years in its partnership with Cathimarini in 2013. However on the occasion in Paris after Samras’ speech, Achilles Saltas, then vice-president of IHT, thought to himself, “Why not have a world dialog in Greece?” Now, Tsaltas appears again on the times forward of the tenth anniversary version of the Athens Democracy Discussion board, an occasion that started as an concept and grew into an establishment.

Tsaltas recounts how he reached out to Cathimerini’s director, Alexis Papachellas, and Cathimerini’s English version’s editor-in-chief, Nikos Konstanderas, and the way they brainstormed a title for the occasion till Konstanderas was “Democracy Below”. Strain”, which is what the Athens Democracy Discussion board was referred to as within the first two years of its existence.

Their efforts had been additionally supported by Antonis Samaras, who was one of many audio system on the first, two-hour occasion on the Stoa of the Atlas Arcade in Athens’ historic agora on September 16, 2013, simply after Worldwide Day. Democracy supported by the United Nations Democracy Fund and the then Secretary-Common Ban Ki-moon.

The concept of ​​internet hosting the occasion on the coronary heart of Athenian democracy was the then Minister of Tourism, Olga Kephalogiani, whereas the initiative was enthusiastically carried out by the mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis. “The convention got here at an excellent time for Athens,” he tells Cathimerini, recalling how Tsaltas requested for a gathering to debate “the concept of ​​organizing one thing about democracy in Athens”. was.

The municipal authority, Kaminis says, “accepted it enthusiastically.” “The assist of Cathymerini and The New York Instances was a assure for us and once we noticed that it was profitable, we determined to make it an Athenian establishment.”

Revered Audio system

And it actually grew to become an establishment. Since 2013, the Athens Democracy Discussion board has hosted pre-eminent worldwide audio system equivalent to Kofi Annan, Josef Stiglitz, Sviatlana Sichanovskaya, Yuval Noah Harari, Irina Bokova, Donald Tusk and the present Prime Minister of Greece, Kiriakos Mitsotakis, however not solely equivalent to Edward There are additionally extra controversial personalities. Snowden and Steve Bannon.

Ban Ki-moon, whose look was within the type of a letter of assist on the first version of the occasion in 2013, shall be one of many key audio system at this 12 months’s anniversary occasion, which is able to happen on 28-30 September, as will the President of the European Fee. Ursula von der Leyen and Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou. In the meantime, the annual Democracy Prize shall be awarded to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“We live and performing in historic occasions, the place the dilemma ‘democracy or autocracy’ is now not only a slogan or a doctrinal proposition,” emphasised Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoynis. “And each single day it’s answered by the heroic individuals of Ukraine, the brave management of President Zelensky and the management and other people of Democratic Europe: Democracy, at any value,” he says, explaining that the prize, which is the ADF’s Within the context offered by the town of Athens, this 12 months shall be devoted to the individuals of Ukraine.

“This sends a message for the tenth 12 months in a row that Athens stays the everlasting cradle of democracy,” says the Greek capital’s mayor.

Location has been important to the success of the platform, which was reiterated by consensus amongst all organizers after a superb begin in 2014.

“Democracy has come beneath hearth since 2010 and individuals are thirsty for dialogue on the topic,” says Saltas, who appears to the viewers in the course of the 2014 occasion and ship speeches to about seven or eight New York Instances reporters. Listening remembers watching. On his subsequent go to to the American metropolis, Tsaltas informed the newspaper’s then-publisher Arthur Sulzberger that the stage had a future. “As Klaus Schwab did with the World Financial Discussion board in Davos, if he begins now, he can set up the Athens Democracy Discussion board,” Tsaltas remembers.

The convention grew to become extra organized in 2015 and included two days in Athens and two days on the Costa Navarino resort in southwestern Peloponnese. It was renamed, after all, on the initiative of the NYT editorial director, to incorporate the identify Athens within the title. “Athens isn’t just the identify of a metropolis; It is an concept,” Saltas says. The conference went so nicely that the NYT began fascinated with shifting it from Athens to different locations like London in 2016.

“That is when Giorgos Kaminis stated, ‘I will come to New York and discuss to the proprietor of the NYT,'” Tsaltas remembers.

“I went straight to New York to elucidate to the NYT board how necessary it was to have the conference in Athens, as a result of Athens is the cradle of democracy,” says the previous mayor.

He additionally emphasised that the convention had develop into as ingrained within the minds of the town’s residents as its members. “I believed that it was an amazing factor for a metropolis to have such an establishment, with such a world glow. It gave Athens a whole lot of visibility on the finish of the vacationer season, which we are attempting to develop at the moment. Had been doing it,” Kaminis says.

However it wasn’t simply the arguments of the previous Athens mayor that influenced the NYT. “The newspaper was taken with Greece: it was the primary nation in Europe to flirt with populism, Athens was a boiling cauldron, and so they may see that what was taking place right here would quickly occur elsewhere,” Tsaltas continues , which has been described by The New York Instances as the corporate’s worldwide president, “the primary inspiration” behind ADF.

Subsequently, the convention stalled – a minimum of in the interim – in Athens and whereas it’s nonetheless held in collaboration with the NYT, it grew to become impartial from the newspaper in 2020 and has since taken place beneath the auspices of the Democracy and Tradition Basis, Which is led by Saltas.

The Basis was established primarily to assist the conference develop, but additionally as a result of it’s not solely a discussion board the place democracy is mentioned, but additionally a discussion board the place initiatives may be taken. “The intention is to make some resolutions emerge from all the pieces we have been speaking about for the final 10 years and switch them into motion, as a result of democracy must develop, it must adapt to new info. “It wants change,” notes Saltas, emphasizing that the change achieved from 2013 to the current is now not simply an finish, but additionally a way.

“We prefer to say that the convention is the Basis’s megaphone,” he says, explaining that some initiatives are already being taken to advertise democracy, equivalent to a undertaking that runs from April to June in 5 totally different nations. passed off in several cities, geared toward figuring out new challenges dealing with democratic constructions and processes world wide.

migratory ‘vitality’

So far as Saltas himself is anxious, the Greek Australian believes that his participation within the convention since 2013 may be traced again to the affect of his mother and father, whom he misplaced in 2010 and 2011. He remembers being requested how he began the hassle throughout this time. About 5 years in the past, he and Kaminis had a gathering with individuals from the New York Instances and others on the conference. He replied that shortly earlier than his father’s loss of life, he had come to go to her within the hospital, the place he was surrounded by books from historic Greece. “He informed me, ‘Son, you need to do one thing for Greece.’ It caught with me,” reminds Saltas. “The diaspora Greeks have this vitality, this anxiousness, like my father, for me to return to Greece, to see my kids do one thing for Greece; All this vitality got here out within the Athens Democracy Discussion board.

For Saltas it was like connecting the dots. He first noticed the magic in 2013, when Giscard d’Estaing, President of France from 1974 to 1981, passed off in Athens and within the viewers, when NYT journalist Roger Cohen invited him to say some unheard phrases.

“Speaking of democracy right here is pure and dynamic on the identical time,” he stated. “Democracy was born of demand, and after some time this construction modified and have become a requirement for sharing of energy – it’s not a requirement for a person, it’s a demand for a bunch. Right here democracy was born; it is kind of a goddess – I want this goddess to assist Greece discover the perfect and most European resolution to its issues.”

As Tsaltas speaks to Kathimerini in the present day, the Acropolis rises within the background: 9 years later, democracy remains to be celebrated in its cradle in Athens.

extraordinary quotes

Valerie Giscard d’Estaing

President of France, 1974-1981

“Its identify is democracy, which implies energy of the group, not the facility of the person. And now democracy considerably resembles the monocracy which is completed for the people, however then it was to search out out what is nice for the group. The vote was to not say what is nice for me, it was to say what is nice for Athens. Subsequently, I have to bear in mind this lesson, I believe, and all the time in a democratic transfer, have the sensation that the tip In democracy, it’s a means of serving the group and never of serving oneself.” (ADF, 2013)

athens-democracy-platform-turn-102Kofi Annan

seventh Secretary-Common of the United Nations, 1997-2006

“As you ponder democracy, be impressed by this distinctive metropolis that, 2,000 years in the past, created a revolutionary system of presidency, with impartial rulers, topic solely to legal guidelines that they themselves handed. They referred to as it ‘ Demokartiya’ stated, actually the individuals rule, and that inspiration nonetheless resonates world wide in the present day. I all the time say that when leaders fail to steer, individuals will lead and observe them. (ADF, 2017)

athens-democracy-platform-turn-104roger cohen

New York Instances journalist, Paris bureau chief and ADF host

“I believe the phrase ‘stoa’ is tied to the phrase ‘Stoicism’ and god is aware of we want a good quantity of that forgotten high quality lately. Democracy is connectedness, it’s neighborhood, it’s the capability for civil dissent, And I believe you all testify to that spirit by being a part of this exceptional Athens Democracy Discussion board (ADF, 2018)

athens-democracy-platform-turn-106clover hogan

Local weather activist and founding CEO of Power of Nature

“Worry, within the context of an existential problem like local weather change, like a pandemic, concern breeds apathy, it breeds nihilism, it breeds the assumption that we’re too younger to make a distinction and that that the system is simply too damaged to make significant change. And that is why I consider one of the crucial highly effective issues we will do is to begin rewriting the tales we inform concerning the world and in it. Believes true to their function and shifts from this place of concern to actual company.” (ADF, 2020)

athens-democracy-platform-turn-108Yuval Noah Harari

historian, author

“Twenty years in the past, it was some company or entrepreneur who grasped the concept, that those that management the circulate of the world’s information would management the world. About 5, six years in the past, some governments understood the identical precept. Began… The query is, who controls the circulate of information on the planet? It appears we’re within the first stage of a digital chilly struggle – simply as we had the Iron Curtain coming down after World Struggle II, now A ‘silicon curtain’ dividing the world is rising quickly. Which aspect of the display you might be on is dependent upon what code is operating in your smartphone.” (ADF, 2021)



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