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10 May, 2001
Foreign Minister George Papandreou, addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, said "we are planning to cooperate closely with the UN to make the Olympic Truce a stable force of peace all over the world."
Papandreou, who is Vice President of the International Olympic Truce Foundation (IOTF), was speaking to accredited reporters at the UN's headquarters in the presence of International Olympic Committee (IOC) and IOTF President Juan Antonio Sama-ranch and Athens 2004 Coordinating Committee President and IOTF member Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.
"The UN's support, which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has provided since last year during the celebration of the millennium, is absolutely necessary to enable the IOTF to intervene in specific regions which are being torn apart by warfare, as well as for the development of educational and communications programs to promote the Olympic Truce concept," Papandreou said.
He said Samaranch inspired the initiative for the revival of an old institution of the Olympic Games, the tradition that wants wars to stop throughout their duration and this tradition was not merely a part of the games but was its purpose.
Replying to a question on whether Cyprus will be included in countries to be selected by the Olympic Truce Center, Papandreou said "our region clearly constitutes the first target for promoting the Olympic Truce. During my recent trip to Cyprus, I met with the chairman of the Olympic Games Committee there and we discussed the possibility of the flame crossing through all of Cyprus with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot athletes. It is an idea which will be examined and discussed and which might promote the concept of peace and cooperation on this martyred island as well."
"We have cooperated closely with President Samaranch for the revival of this message of peace," he said, adding that "the Olympic Truce concept is a radical one. However, it has been proved that it can produce results."
Samaranch said that from what Papandreou had presented it is obvious that the Olympic Truce concept is not merely words but practice as well.
"We are looking to the future now, to the games in Salt Lake City and Athens. I have said many times that the Olympic Games constitute a combination of sports and culture. However, in going to Greece there is a third dimension, the historical one. Because the history of the Olympic Games belongs to Greece. We are confident that its effort will achieve a great success not only for Greece but for the entire Olympic movement as well," Samaranch said.
He further said "the sports movement can help politicians in their efforts for peace" and hailed Annan's decision to appoint a special adviser on sports issues "who can contribute to the better coordination of action between the UN and the IOTF."
On her part, Daskalaki said that all who attended the meeting on the Olympic Truce should feel moved by what they saw and heard, which remind of the ancient value and modern promise of Olympism: peace through sport.
She further referred to plans to carry the Olympic Flame to more than 60 countries in all continents and in some of which wars are currently raging.
"To turn the Olympic Truce concept into practice, the 'Athens 2004' organization has decided certain measures. So, Foreign Minister Mr. Papandreou and myself will flank a working committee which will aim at coordinating the actions of the IOTF with processes for the transfer of the Olympic Flame," she said.
Source: Athens News Agency