A special event was held on occasion of the “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020” Anniversary Year, at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, under the auspices of his Excellency the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos, titled “The many and the few: multitude and virtue”. A focal point of the battles between the Persian Empire of King Xerxes and the Greek City-States during the Persian wars was the great disproportion in numbers which was effectively overcome. The victory of the Greek cities paved the way for the Golden Age of Athens, thus allowing ancient Greek philosophy and art to become the foundation of Western Civilisation.
The Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Member of the Honorary Committee of the “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020” Anniversary Year, Professor Meletios-Athanasios Dimopoulos, during his opening address referred to the events of Thermopylae and Salamis and mentioned, among other things, that “the victory of the Greek Cities, as we all know, was a shining example of a brave response to invaders, proved the importance of unity and unanimity during a critical time, and ultimately paved the way for the Golden Age of Athens, allowing ancient Greek philosophy and art to become the foundation of Western Civilisation. The importance, therefore, of the co-existence and cultural interaction of small and large countries, is the main point at the core of this event, since there are small countries with self-confidence, a great cultural background and an important contribution to the history of Mankind. We must highlight,” he concluded, “the message of peace, respect, shared heritage and our shared future as the key to mapping a sustainable way forward for the people of today’s world.”
After that followed the projection of a video for the “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020” Anniversary Year and the address of the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and the President of the Honorary Deanship “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020”, Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis. Mrs Vardinoyannis, referring to the history of mankind and global culture, stressed that “it is the human quality that makes the difference, and not the human or material quantity. Our ancestors used to say quality is not found in quantity, but the other way around, and they demonstrated this in practice. The same thing has been demonstrated by many other people, who were few in number but had a great cultural weight in global history. Also, people of larger numbers who interacted with cultures of smaller-sized countries, a fact proving the necessity for laying out a common path in the course of history. In this framework we will be hearing the examples of Latvia and Romania, as well as the influence of the Egyptian and Chinese civilisation on mankind!”.
The Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Professor Meletios-Athanasios Dimopoulos, then awarded an honorary plaque to Dr Vaira Vike Freiberg and Dr Ismail Serageldin for their contribution to global peace and the dialogue between cultures.
The keynote speech was delivered by Professor Emeritus Konstantinos Bourazelis, former Vice Rector, Advisor of the Rectorate of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens on Academic and International Affairs, member of the Honorary Committee of the “Thermopylae-Salamis 2020” Anniversary Year, with title “The Persian Empire invades Greece or the many and the few”. Mr Bourazelis thoroughly analysed the historical events, and noted, among other things that “nothing of what we know today would be the same if the Persians had won the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, and the Greek cities had surrendered, as did the Ionian cities, to the Persian army. Democracy would not have taken root, we would not have had the era of Pericles, the Parthenon, everything that followed and constitutes the pride and the foundation of western civilisation, our classical civilisation, there would be no western civilisation”.
After the keynote speech followed a round table discussion coordinated by Mr Antonio Zanardi Landi, former Diplomatic Advisor to the President of the Italian Republic, Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta, and speakers Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia 1999-2007, Co-Chair of the NGIC, Member of the Honorary Committee of the “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020” Anniversary Year, on the subject of “Possibilities and record of cultural survival of small countries versus big ones. The example of Latvia”, Professor Emil Constantinescu, President of Romania 1996-2000 on the subject of “Cultural heritage and survival in a multicultural regional entity. The example of Romania in the Balkans”, Dr Ismail Serageldin, Vice-Chairman of the World Bank 1992-2000, Co-Chair of the NGIC, Member of the Honorary Committee of the “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020” Anniversary Year on the subject of “Cultural survival despite foreign occupation. The case of Egypt”, and Mr Rashid Alimov, Secretary General Shanghai Cooperation Organization 2016-2019, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan 1992-1994, on the subject of “The Many and the Few: Impact of ancient Chinese and Greek Civilization on mankind.”