CULTURE

Dora Bakoyannis honored by French Academy

Just a day after International Woman’s Day, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was named a foreign associate of the French Academy, on Monday, March 9. She is the first female foreign associate and this is therefore a great honor for her as well as for Greece. The day began with a meeting with Prime Minister Francois Fillon in his office, where they discussed European developments and ways to deal with the economic crisis. Later, the Academy’s La Coupole amphitheater was filled with personalities from France’s world of arts and letters as well as representatives of the Greek community in Paris, including Ambassador Dimitris Paraskevopoulos, Ambassador to UNESCO Giorgos Anastassopoulos and Hellenic Festival President Giorgos Loukos, among others. They were moved to see the first child of former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis and Marika Mitsotaki receive the honor that had been awarded to the great Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and his Foreign Minister Nikolaos Politis, as well as President Constantine Tsatsos. The ceremony began at 2.30 p.m. when the president of the French Academy, Jean-Claude Casanova, and other leading members welcomed Bakoyannis to the Academy. She was accompanied by her husband, Isidoros Kouvelos, her daughter Alexia, her sisters Katerina and Alexandra and their husbands, and the director of her political office, Dimitris Zafeiriadis. She was wearing the Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix, awarded to her by the Greek president, when she entered the Mazarin Library, where the members of the Academy were waiting. She was shown the institute’s collection of books on Greece and the correspondence between Venizelos and members of the Academy. From there, they entered the amphitheater in a solemn procession to a drum roll. Bakoyannis spoke on the issue of Europe and the need for international cooperation in all sectors. The members of the Academy gave her a standing ovation for five minutes. Pierre Rousselin, writing in La Figaro, noted that Bakoyannis «speaks impeccable French, is a friend of France and, as she said in her speech of thanks, considers France’s decision a great honor to her and her country.»