Athens, Tuesday 19 May 2020

Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, President of the Honorary Committee for the “Salamis – Thermopylae 2020” Anniversary Year, referred to the teachings drawn from Thermopylae and Salamis, saying that “’I’ gave its place to ‘We’”. And the few showed the many that people are not numbers, and the soul and spirit are the true strength of man, Marianna Vardinoyannis noted in her intervention in the online discussion organised by the Delphi Economic Forum, titled 2,500 years after Thermopylae and Salamis: Lessons from Ancient Greece and their relevance today.

Mrs Vardinoyannis mentioned that the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mrs Katerina Sakellaropoulou, has placed under her auspices the anniversary year for the 2500 years after Thermopylae and Salamis, and explained that all events are postponed due to the pandemic, and that after June 10th they will be in a position to announce the new programme. The Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO underlined that the pandemic has shifted our priorities, has changed our entire life with fear, insecurity and uncertainty prevailing. Man, and especially the people that need us, became once again the focus of attention. “We made ‘I’ ‘we’ again through self-denial”, said Mrs Marianna Vardinoyannis, explaining that Thermopylae and Salamis are not geographical destinations, but ideological ones, because they highlight the people and the ideals for which they fought. Mrs Vardinoyannis, who has dedicated her life to humanitarian work, said that the funds which the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis” Foundation has allocated for the celebrations, have been given to the vulnerable groups of the pandemic, the elderly, the needy, the homeless and the children living in accommodation centers. Symbolic help, is what Marianna Vardinoyannis called it, but a life-line and a comfort for our weaker follow citizens, she said. “The celebrations can await for a while, until we can be able to celebrate again without fear”, noted the President of the Honorary Committee for the “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020” Anniversary Year.  

Athanasios Platias, Professor of Strategy, University of Piraeus, explained that the battle of Salamis changed the western civilization, and proved that retreat is not the only way. David can defeat Goliath. “If you follow a smart strategy and do not retreat, you can win. When the enemy is asking for land and water, you must resist and that is what we must keep in mind today, with Turkey asking for land and water”, the professor underlined. Strategy can make a difference, as can political leadership, Athanasios Platias repeated multiple times, referring to the recent example of the pandemic, where smart strategies and serious leaders brought good results. Athens was lucky, because it had the brilliant Themistocles, who had both the skill of persuasion and the ability to reach quick decisions, noted the Professor. “We cannot rely on the opponent not showing up. Themistocles had the foresight to prepare for the coming danger” said the Strategy professor, referring indirectly to our country’s treat from the East.      

Alexandros Mallias, Ambassador Ad Honorem, compared Xerxes with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, calling him an arrogant, autocratic leader who imprisons his opponents and tries to alter the borders by displaying his military might also on the negotiating table. Alexandros Mallias reminded of what happened only a few months ago in Evros and Turkey’s efforts to impose its own law by blackmailing Greece and Europe with the immigrants. 

Nikolaos Kyriazis, a Professor of the University of Thessaly, referred in detail to the double strategy used by Themistocles when he persuaded Athenians to give money for the defence of the country, and explained that in direct democracy, the concept of the common good, public interest, is defined based on the decisions taken by the majority for each matter separately. “In today’s democracy we do not decide like that. Today, we cannot unfortunately select a good thing from one party and a good thing from another party”, Professor Nikolaos Kyriazis commented. Mr Kyriazis also brought up the example of Israel, which despite being a small country, has won the Arabs repeatedly in wars. 

Athanasios Platias, in his reply to a question by the discussion’s moderator, Fanis Papathanasiou, a reporter from ERT, said that whoever controls the sea controls the world, and this is the dogma of countries like the United Kingdom and the USA. Greece is a land of mountains around the Aegean, noted the Professor, and that is why it cannot exist without the Aegean Sea. Greece should implement a deterring strategy, in combination with defence and diplomacy, at the same time building strong alliances, Athanasios Platias highlighted. 

Ambassador ad Honorem, Alexandros Mallias, noted the need to restart the economy, because, as he said, a strong defence requires a lot of money, and defence expenditure is the strongest reply to the country’s enemies. He also spoke about our country’s need to control the maritime areas where it has strategic interests, and noted that it must channel all its powers, and mainly its human resources towards the prevention of a potential cyber attack.

The discussion may be watched in replay at:


Delphi Economic Forum is an independent not-for-profit organization with an international character, where prominent figures and innovators from the Economy, Politics and the Academic community meet every year. The objective of the Forum is to outline a realistic framework of goals and actions, to explore policies for addressing global challenges, and find appropriate solutions to the complex and interdependent issues confronting our country, South-eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.