CULTURE

Stephanopoulos presents the presidential awards

“You set a good example,» President Costis Stephanopoulos told the 16 figures from the fields of law, academia, literature, the arts, private initiative and philanthropy whom he honored this week for their work in Greece and in countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kenya and the Ivory Coast, where three of the recipients of the state prizes are working. The official ceremony at the Presidential Palace this week was moving and joyful as the president made the awards. Dimitrios Linos, Supreme Court prosecutor, made Supreme Commander of the Order of Honor, was not able to attend due to the demands of work. Luciano Canforo, professor of classical philology at Bari University in Italy, is to receive the Gold Cross of the Commander of the Order of Honor at a ceremony at the Greek Embassy in Rome. The rest, who all attended this week’s ceremony, each received a personal word of praise from the president as he presented the awards. Athens University Professor Loukas Tsoukalis, who has taught at the European Institute of Bruges, is the first Eleftherios Venizelos professor at the London School of Economics and currently president of the think tank the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). He was made a Commander of the Order of the Phoenix. Other recipients of this award were Eugene Rossidis, who was born in the US to Greek parents and has offered valuable services to the philhellene lobby since the end of the dictatorship. The founder and president of the American-Hellenic Institute, Rossidis dedicated his award to his family. In response to a question from Helbi about the good cooperation between Greece and the US, he said, «America has to consider Greece more than Turkey; then Greek-American relations will be much better.» The Gold Cross of the Order of Honor went to Marina Lambraki-Plaka, professor at the School of Fine Arts and director of the National Art Gallery. «The exhibitions she holds have created the long queues that we see outside the gallery,» said the president, also referring to her creation of the sculpture gallery at Goudi, now hosting the works of Henry Moore and the wooden carvings of Christos Capralos. The Gold Cross of the Order of the Phoenix went to Theodoros Papalexopoulos, former president of the Federation of Greek Industries, who has quietly funded archaeological research, and rewarded foundations and individuals for their humanitarian work. The same award was presented to the painter Costas Tsoclis, who has made Greece known around the world at exhibitions and in private collections, to Lambros Kanellopoulos, former president of the General Confederation of Greek Labor and now president of the Greek National Committee of UNICEF, and to Rigas Rigopoulos, a resistance fighter in World War II and author, who dedicated his award to «the brave men who fell before firing squads, shouting ‘Long Live Freedom.’» Then it was the turn of singer Maria Farandouri whose voice, which has filled so many stadiums, shook with emotion after she heard the president tell of how Greeks took heart during the dictatorship from listening to her recordings of Mikis Theodorakis’s songs. To songwriter Lina Nikolakopoulou, the president said: «You should be proud that your lyrics become songs on everyone’s lips. I consider you a poet.» The Silver Cross of the Order of the Phoenix was presented to Iraklis Lambropoulos, a former captain in the merchant navy, who has donated a collection of ancient artifacts to the Municipality of Polygyros, and to sociologist Marika Kerestetzioglou, honorary consul of the Ivory Coast, for her humanitarian work as founder and president of the «Greek Action in Africa.» She has been involved in caring for children suffering from AIDS whose parents have died of the disease. The hospital she founded in the Ivory Coast, at her own expense and with much personal effort, bears the name «Hellas.» Awards also went to nurse Zoe Livaditou, a member of Doctors of the World, for her work with the «Greek Rescue Group,» and to another nurse, Eleni Sotiriou, a member of Doctors of the Heart. But it was little Nazia from Afghanistan who stole the show, when she asked the president to make her a Greek. «Only you can do it,» she said.