05 June, 2007
Address of Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis during her meeting with His Beatitude Theodoros II Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa (4 June 2007)
“Your Beatitude, I want to express my deep gratitude for this wonderful reception. My pleasure is twofold, because I see this wonderful building finished, and it bears your personal stamp. And it is of major significance that this Patriarchate, which is one of the most important Beacons of Orthodoxy, is now on this site of which it is worthy.
Your Beatitude, I would like to congratulate you on your pastoral and spiritual work, and particularly on your missionary work. And I don’t say this because you and I are linked by our bonds with Crete, but because I am well aware of your love for this Church and the efforts you have made for this Church of Africa. I believe, Your Beatitude, that Africa is the future; a future that you have seen and in the direction of which you are moving, giving hope to these peoples who are in such great need of you, of Orthodoxy, of religion.
So I want to thank you and assure you on behalf of the Prime Minister and the whole government that the government will stand by you and support you in any way that it can and as much as it can. We are aware of our responsibility. We know that we must meet this challenge. We are well aware of the importance of the Patriarchate and your personal contribution, and I want you to rest assured that though there are still many problems for us to confront, we will confront them together, Your Beatitude. Once again, I express my warmest thanks.”
Speech of Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis during her visit to the premises of the Greek Community of Alexandria (4 June 2007)
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you for the warm reception you have given me in the city of Alexander the Great, the city of the Church Fathers, the city of the great benefactors of our nation, the city of Cavafy, Alexandria. I had the opportunity to visit you two years ago, as the Mayor of Athens. I am now here again as the Foreign Minister, starting in Alexandria on my official visit to friendly Egypt, with whom our relations are excellent and have been on an upward course, particularly in recent years.
I know that the ethnic Greek community has diminished significantly in comparison with the past. I also believe that I have a good understanding of the problems you are facing, as well as the services that you continue to provide to the community: schools, the retirement home, food for the poor, care, and opportunities for increased cultural activity. So I would like, once again, on behalf of Greece, on behalf of the homeland, to assure you that Greece will continue to help the Greek community of Alexandria so that it can continue its active presence in this neighbouring, friendly country.
In particular – as you said, Mr. President – with regard to the saving of historic buildings in the Greek Quarter, the Foreign Ministry has honoured and will continue to honour its commitment to generously fund this work. Despite the delays that have been noted, the programme has been approved by the Foreign Ministry’s International Development Cooperation department, and we hope that work will begin soon on the first three buildings.
Your community here is important for yet another reason: you are the first line of support for the Throne of Saint Mark of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, which is now in a new period of progress and creativity, doing work throughout Africa. I would like, again, to express my warm thanks for the reception you have given me, and to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart on the work you are carrying out. I thank you on behalf of all the Greeks in the homeland, and I congratulate the President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, who is today the President of all Hellenism abroad, and who hails from here, from great Alexandria. Thank you very much.”
Speech of Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis at the opening ceremony of the Melina Mercouri Exhibition at the Library of Alexandria (4 June 2007)
“My pleasure is twofold today: First, you have given me the opportunity to return to Alexandria and revisit this great, unique Library. And second, because I believed from the very outset that it was a wonderful idea for us to open this Melina Mercouri Exhibition here. Melina was a great actress, a great politician. Melina honoured Greece, and Greece has honoured Melina.
I had the good fortune to meet her during the difficult years, during her exile in Paris, during the struggle against the dictatorship, when she – along with many other Greeks – was fighting for freedom and democracy in Greece. I also knew her afterwards, as the Culture Minister, because I had the good fortune to succeed Melina at the Ministry for Culture and appreciate the work that she had done there – work that Ms. Daskalaki and Mr. Merkouris referred to earlier.
Melina is really a legend, and it is a very great pleasure for all of us who have come from Greece to be able to open an exhibition of Melina’s posters – collected over the years by Giorgos Pilihos with great care and hard work, which is clear from this exhibition. This exhibition shows the many sides of Melina – Melina as an actress; the Melina recognised throughout the world. Ladies and gentlemen, I know you are anxious to see the exhibition. I wish you every success.”