Athens, 13 September 2021

With a modest and simple ceremony, dedicated to the memory of Mikis Theodorakis andin the presence of H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the 3rd“Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Culture Awards” were awarded by the Municipality of Ermionida, on Sunday, September 12th, 2021, while during the event H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic was named Honorary Citizen of Ermionida.

The Mayor of Ermionida, Mr. Yannis Georgopoulos, together with the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and Chair of the Awards Committee Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, the Deputy Mayor of Ermionida Mr. Joseph El. Mertyris and the President of the Community of Ermioni Joseph Ganosis welcomed H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the old City Hall of Ermioni.

At the beginning of the event, there was a minute of silence in memory of Mikis Theodorakis.

Immediately after, the Mayor presented H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic with the Golden Key of the Municipality, declaring her an Honorary Citizen.

The President of the Hellenic Republic received the Golden Key of the Municipality and the Certificate with the relevant decision of the Municipal Council and stated: “I am very excited for this great honor, declaring me an Honorary Citizen of the historic Ermionida. An ancient and glorious city, in war and peace, it is mentioned in Homer, it participates in the Persian wars sending ships to Salamis and men to Plataea, it is described with admiration for its temples and sanctuaries by Pausanias. You are lucky to live in a blessed place where history meets the beauty of nature and modern life, a rare depth of culture inscribed in the visible traces of its monuments, in its special architecture, in the elegance of its inhabitants. Thank you for the joy you offer me to be a Citizen of Ermioni from today and to feel one of the most beautiful and rich in history corners of our country asmy place”.

The presentation of the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Culture Awards 2021“followed, awarded to the recipients by the President of the Hellenic Republic. It is an important cultural institution for the entire region of Argolida, which has been established by the Municipality of Ermionida in honour of its benefactor Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis.

The “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Culture Awards 2021” were awarded to leadingpersonalities from Greece and abroad in the field of letters and culture, namely:

Mrs. Andri Anastasiadis, First Lady of the Republic of Cyprus, who received a Special Honorary Distinction for the Solidarity among the Peoples.

Roderick Beaton, Emeritus Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature at King’s College London, who was awarded for the promotion of Greek culture abroad.

Rector Helen Ahrweiler, President of the European Cultural Center of Delphi, for her contribution to the promotion of Greek history.

– Mrs. Marina Lambraki – Plaka, Director of the National Gallery-Museum of Alexandros Soutsos, for her contribution to the field of culture and arts.

– The Historical and Folklore Museum of Ermioni for its contribution to the culture of Argolida. The award was received by the President of the Museum, Mrs. Tina Antonopoulou

Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis opened her speech with an emotional reference to Mikis Theodorakis, with whom she shared a strong friendship: “The one minute silence we just had in his memory was a shocking moment for me as well as every minute since his death. Greece has lost a great visionary and a pillar of our culture and I lost a great friend who honored me and my family with his friendship and invaluable support in the work of ELPIDA by the side of the sick children”.

Mrs. Vardinoyannis warmly thanked H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic for her presence and congratulated her on being declared Honorary Citizen of the Municipality of Ermionida: “I would like to express my warmest thanks to the H.E. President of the Hellenic Republic, Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, for her invaluable support in the city of Ermioni and all Argolida. Her presence is a special honor for all of us, as well as the fact that she will present this year’s Culture Awards. Her Proclamation as an Honorary Citizen of the Municipality of Ermionida is a special moment for our hometown through which we express gratitude, appreciation and admiration for her rare personality, her devotion to the values ​​of peace and democracy, her tireless efforts in defending human rights and her work of national importance for our country”.

In fact, as expression of gratitude for the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic in her hometown, Mrs. Vardinoyannis offered her a painting by the late artist Anthoula Lazaridou-Douroukou, from Ermionida, who had dedicated her work to preserve the traditions of herhomeland.

In her speech, Mrs. Vardinoyannis congratulated each one of the winners separately, speaking in detail about their work and contribution.

Referring to Mrs. Andri Anastasiadis, she said: “Her work is an example of social contribution internationally and I feel deeply moved that today she is awarded with the “Special Honorary Distinction for the Solidarity among Peoples” as a recognition of her morality, tireless efforts and a big heart.” For Prof. Beaton, she said: “I admire his scientific career and his vast literary work through which the entire history of the Greek Nation reflects in”. Mrs. Vardinoyannis spoke with great admiration and love  for Rector Ahrweiler, saying: “The radiance of her spirit and her inexhaustible knowledge are a real treasure of wisdom for modern Greece and I feel very proud of her as a Greek woman and as her friend”. She also referred to Mrs. Marina Lambraki-Plaka: “Her long career, her cultivation and her training make her invaluable for our culture. This year the National Gallery reopened its gates and radiates culture! It is a jewel for Greece that makes every Greek man and every Greek woman proud”. At the same time, she spoke about the rich work and contribution of the Folklore Museum of Ermionida: “This Museum, through its rich archive and invaluable historical objects, keeps the tradition and identity of Ermioni alive. A project that deserves the support from all of us!”

The Mayor of Ermionida, Mr. Yannis Georgopoulos, praised H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic for her work:  “With your proclamation today, we recognize the honor you brought in our city with your visit today, brightening with your presence our current Anniversary events. Your attitude fills us with confidence that you have your eyes on Ermionida. It really is the right day to reciprocate the feelings of appreciation and love that you have actually expressed for our place. It is important for us that the highest Authority of our country, defends our national dignityin a proper way. With today’s distinction, we express our deep appreciation recognizing your important contribution to democracy, to granting justice and to public life.”

At the same time, Mayor Georgopoulos warmly thanked Mrs. Vardinoyannis for her efforts and contribution, saying that together with her family “she is one of the remaining great benefactors”: “We are fortunate and honored to be compatriots with the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO, but also of Hellenism, culture and humanity, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis. There are no words to express our gratitude because the love for her special homeland has no limits. But it spreads all over the country and expands worldwide. I have to admit, even though she does not want (this to be known), that her help and that of Mr. Vardis J. Vardinoyannis is continuous. Through our cooperation for the benefit and development of our homeland, I discovered that Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and her family are among the remaining great benefactors”.

The Mayor congratulated each of the winners separately, saying that their presence is a special honor for the Municipality of Ermionida and the wider region of Argolida.

The President of the Community of Ermioni, Mr. Iosif Ganosis, also spoke warmly for the laureates and the great honor for the region of Ermioni: “I wish from the bottom of my heart the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Culture Awards to be awarded for many years in our homeland, and at the same time as beacons of Light and crowns of culture to fulfill their main goal, leaving as a legacy and heritage to all the view and knowledge of the basic meaning of life”.

All the winners thanked for the great honor.

Mrs. Andri Anastasiadis said: “Today, I am experiencing intense emotions. Emotions which are reasonably caused by the attribution to me of the special honorary distinction of Solidarity among People. I take this highly honorable distinction with a special sense of responsibility, and while remaining firmly committed to the rationale of your decision, I feel the deep need to stress that I have done nothing more than the duty of each one of us should dictate. This distinction, in the context of the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Culture Awards”, recalling the special efforts of offering of Mrs. Vardinoyannis’strong personality, will be an additional incentive for me to take even more action for the benefit of our fellow human beings, society and of our culture”.

Professor Roderick Beaton, in a moving speech in fluent Greek, said excitedly: “To be awarded the Culture Prize in the name of Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis is a great honor – all the more so when the winner happens to be a foreigner. With all my heart I thank Mrs. Vardinoyannis herself and the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” for this honor with this unexpected award. It is a fact that the promotion of Greek culture – and in fact of modern Greek – has occupied me throughout my scientific career – a life, we say. All the words I have written on the subject, in my own language, are addressed primarily to the English-speaking and international readers. I have the impression, however, that they are being read more carefully by the Greeks themselves, who of course do not need them! Anyway, we are all doing what we can -” each one and his weapons “as Nobel laureate Odysseas Elytis wrote”.

Rector Helene Ahrweiler, speaking from the heart, enchanted those present with her words: “I would like to congratulate Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and I would like to say that she is the only Greek who does not need to be addressed by a surname. She is the Marianna of us all, the Child Savior. Marianna made the culture awards international. “Culture is not Greece, culture is Hellenism, because it does not stop at the Greek borders alone”.

Mrs. Marina Lambraki-Plaka thanked both the Municipality of Ermionida and Mrs. Vardinoyannis for the great honor: “We have been united with Marianna V. Vardinoyannis for years, with an unacknowledged but strong bond, which was also the strong foundation of our friendship: we are both volunteers of realistic utopia. Marianna has not stated it in words, like me, but she has done it with her huge and unique worldwide charity achievements. Marianna, we owe you much more than you owe us. Because culture also presupposes health. After all, we have experienced it lately with the global pandemic crisis. Let me admit, however, that I, the daughter of a blacksmith from a village in Crete, with my small strengths, but with inexhaustible fighting spirit and faith in the vision of realistic utopia, managed to put, not a little stone, but a cornerstone in history of our culture, of course with the help of the state and my worthy collaborators, but also with the support of many sponsors that I was able to secure. “Our National Gallery, for which I fought for many years, is today a beautiful modern museum worthy of the great Greek artists that it houses”.

The President of the Historical and Folklore Museum of Ermioni Tina Antonopoulou, receiving the Culture Award spoke in detail about the history of the Museum, noting that this award is a great honor: “It is agreat honor for the cultural association that I represent, that is, the Historical and Folklore Museum of Ermioni. At the same time, I feel and express my gratitude to the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO, Mrs. Marianna Vardi Vardinoyannis, who supports the collective edifice of culture with the specific culture awards she has established and not only at the local level. It is known that Museums are places of culture, but they are also institutions of culture, they are arks, where works of art, historical relics, documents, proclamations and documents are preserved “.

At the same time, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis awarded for the second straight year two scholarships to Lyceum graduates from the Prefecture of Argolida who managed to be admitted to schools related to History and Archeology with the highest score. For the school year 2020-2021 the scholarships were given to students Dimitris Nikolopoulos and Elisavet-Anna Tsifaki who were admitted to the University of Peloponnese.

As part of the event, the Inaugural Presentation of the Scientific Conference took place: “The Hermione National Assembly, the Constitution of Troizina and their impact on the Revolution and the democratic life of modern Greece.” The Conference will be held on September 17-19, 2021 in the Municipality of Ermionida and the presentation was made by Constitutionalist Konstantinos Botopoulos who spoke in detail about the Constitutions of the Revolution and their important role in the formation of the Greek state and the National Assembly held in Ermioni in 1827.

The event was moderated by journalist Irini Nikolopoulou, while several personalities attended the event: the former Speaker of Parliament Anna Psarouda Benaki, the Representative of the Metropolitan of Hydra- Spetses- Aegina and Ermionida, Mr. Vardis J. Vardinoyannis, Mrs. Alexia Antsakli-Vardinoyannis, the former Commissioner of the European Union Dimitris Avramopoulos, the MPs of Argolida Region Giannis Andrianos, Giannis Giolas and Andreas Poulas, the MP of New Democracy Party Haris Theocharis, the Deputy Regional Governor of Argolida Giannis Maltezos, the Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Thanos Dimopoulos, Regional Councilors, Deputy Mayors, Community Presidents, Municipal Councilors and many more.

It is noted that all the health protocols were applied at the event.