CULTURE

President receives new diplomats

What did the new foreign ambassadors who presented their credentials to Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday see? The Presidential Guard, the Evzones, in the sunlit garden, and lining the red-carpeted corridor where the media had gathered to see the new diplomats. New US Ambassador Charles Parker Ries, representative of the world leader, was there, replacing Thomas Miller, now in a new post in London. Tian Huejen, representing the millions of Chinese whose turn it is to hold the next Olympic Games, stated as ambassadors do that he wanted «even better cooperation at all levels.» The ceremony of presenting credentials had a special brilliance, perhaps because the Greek president wanted a finale to match his successful 10-year term of office and paid extra attention to detail, setting the bar very high. Flanked by his officials, Stephanopoulos waited for each ambassador to approach, credentials in hand and escorted by Foreign Ministry protocol chief Danae Koumanakou. The president took the credentials, responded graciously in the same language in which he was addressed, shook hands and exchanged comments on the first meeting in the presence of the media. Then the new ambassador would return to the threshold and remain standing to hear his or her national anthem. This scene was repeated four times, with the Chinese ambassador, the US ambassador, Ambassador Zacharie Gahutu of Burundi, based in Geneva, and Fiji Islands Ambassador Ratu Seremala Tuinausori Cavuilati, based in Brussels, who handed over their credentials in a ceremony that balanced formality with cordiality. The future will show how their early good intentions play out. Already, the new British ambassador, Simon Gass, has made his first statements in the shadow of the still unsolved murder of the special guard Haralambos Amanatidis. Speaking fluent Greek, he expressed his regrets for the incident and offered his condolences to the victim’s family.