Mayor Kaklamanis warmly welcomed the journalists and noted during his address:
“According to writer Henry Miller, good journalism is the only way in which society can converse with itself. And the City of Athens is a city that knows this very well as it has pioneered in this specific field. Athens is a city that, beyond democracy and culture, gave birth to the first independent radio station which today broadcasts in 14 languages.
You know very well, of course, that we live in difficult times. We live in an era where tumultuous information overload, shallow analysis and superficial conclusions dull our vision. And particularly in these times, this is something which assumes even greater importance. We cannot doubt or negotiate the fact that Europe is the destination of our political, economic and social future. Nor the fact that, as associates, allies and fellow travelers, we must not wag our finger at one another but find ways to reach an understanding. Besides, as we say here in Greece , friendship is proven when difficulties arise. Because, governments may frequently disagree but it would be a shame if these disagreements harmed relations between the peoples of Europe .”
“At this point, I would like share a personal experience of mine with you. When the European Parliament voted on the common currency, the euro, I was a Euro-MP. At the time, I did not vote in favour of the euro, but rather cast a blank ballot. This was my reasoning. I believed, and continue to believe, that in order for our common currency to succeed, three preconditions should have existed – genuine political union in Europe, genuine social cohesion in Europe and, chiefly, Europe should possess its own sources of wealth production – oil and natural gas.
At the time, Europe was attempting to conclude the matter of the customs union with Turkey . In the European Parliament, I had put forward a proposal, with a vote – which did not draw a majority in the end – for the establishment of a customs union with Russia , either beforehand or in parallel. A country with limitless sources of wealth production. that would have been a very useful ally for Europe .
I remind you that the dollar’s first attack on the euro occurred some two to three years ago via the oil crisis. Europe held up then. We are now experiencing the dollar’s second attack on the euro via international speculation, something to which US President Obama admitted a couple of days ago. And this is why he ordered investigations. Therefore, I believe that now, more than ever before, it is necessary for Europe to demonstrate its great solidarity between members, otherwise not one, two or three countries face danger. The entire European structure is at risk.”
For his part, the chairman of the Association of European Journalists’ Greek section, Athanasios Papandropoulos, thanked Mayor Kaklamanis on behalf of the visiting journalists for his hospitality and noted:
“My colleagues who constitute the Union’s executive committee came to Athens for two reasons. The first is that, each year, the Union confers the Konstantinos Kalligas awards, and, for the last three years, the European Award for Journalism.”
As I carefully listened to your observation, with which I concur, in terms of the existing level and state of journalism, I would like you to know that the Konstantinos Kalligas award pays tribute to the ethical journalism and European orientation of the journalists who receive the award.
The second reason that my colleagues are here in Athens is that, yesterday, we held a kind of seminar on the future of journalism. It would be my great pleasure to send you the conclusions of the meeting within the next few weeks, so that you can see my colleagues’ level of discussion and inquiry for yourself.
I will end on an optimistic note, saying that I believe that here, in the birthplace of journalistic Democracy, all difficulties can be overcome.”
Association of European Journalists chairman Diego Carcedo noted:
“I realise that Athens is going through a difficult phase due to the difficult economic situation. On behalf of our Association, I would like to convey our solidarity and the assurance that you will soon overcome this situation. I am certain that, next year, when we return to Athens , the situation will have greatly improved. Mr Mayor, I wish you and the citizens of Athens all the very best.”