The last official visit of Barak Obama as president of the United States was to Greece. A visit and an address to the Greek people which will remain memorable if not to the entire world, but surely to both Greeks and Americans alike.
President Obama received a very warm welcome at the Stavros Niarchos foundation where he gave his speech; a speech that inspired me so much and made me feel proud to be Greek. There could not have been a better-chosen person to speak about Greece in these times than the president of the United States himself.
The president opened his speech by stating why he chose Greece to mark the end of his term as president and stated it as follows: “I was determined on my last trip as president to come to Greece, for the Filoxenia (hospitality), the Parthenon, but mainly for Greece’s contribution to humanity”. “We are in debt to the Greeks mainly for the understanding of the right and the capacity to govern ourselves; Democratia.
After a reference to Socrates and Aristotle, the president underlined that the ideals of ancient Greeks are challenged today. Global economy and cultural diversity are 2 things that trouble our world today, and to many people in the world, they seem to be jeopardizing democracy.
Longing to live with dignity is something that all humans want no matter where they come from. The crisis in Greece has both internal and external causes; at the same time, Greeks prove that they have democracy because they opened their heart to all the refugees who arrived, something that inspired the entire world. Still, Greeks shouldn’t carry the burden alone.
He emphasized the following: “I don’t think that people around the world are aware of the sacrifice that the Greek people have made during this time, but I am aware of it, and I am here to underline the good steps that have been made. And help Greece to get back on a sustained economic recovery. People need to see hope, they need to see that there is a future”.
We cannot get 100% of what we want in a democracy because we need to leave room for compromise. We need to see the capacity of others in ourselves. We need both a financial and a cultural structure in today’s world.
President Obama closed his speech with the word “Filotimo”. “I see it every day, and it gives me hope”.
The round of applause was enormous and the inspiration from his speech even greater.
We thank the president for valuing our ideals, our country, and our contribution. He is leaving a unique mark in the books of history.