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Greece and the Olympic Games: The two returns

With the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, these great sports events return to the place where they started their modern cycle in 1896, on the initiative of Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Then, it meant the revival of an idea and of a practice that started approximately in the year 776 BC in Ancient Olympia, and which continued until the Christian Emperor Theodosius I banned them for being pagan and impious. Over the course of time and history we can evaluate more objectively these athletic competitions and we can affirm that these Games were in essence a magnificent worship of the physical and cultural virtues. But these Games not only created the appropriate framework for the development of human activities but also had positive consequences in the relations of people, as, during the celebration, all hostilities among nations at war had to be suspended. It was the so-called Olympic Truce that Greece brought back from history and enforced in universal memory through the resolution that was adopted last year by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The return of the Olympic Games to Athens occurs within a wider framework of a previous return to Greece of the superior values of Western civilization, after four centuries of foreign domination. In a prolonged, difficult and sometimes dramatic process that started with the War of Independence in 1821, the Hellenic Republic has reached the present time with a full representative democracy, an adequate level of socioeconomic development and as an integral part of an influential European Union that has contributed to the progress of its member states with an essential, ultimate political sense of unity that has not been seen since the times of Charlemagne. Greece, in the last decades and undoubtedly since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974, has succeeded in consolidating the foundation of democracy in such a way that nothing but a positive political evolution is conceived, with a people respectful of the Constitution with full division of powers, with dialogue and well-balanced relations among political parties and with the full exercise of freedom and fundamental rights within a context of recognized safety. The accession of Greece to the European Union, in 1981, and into the eurozone in the year 2000, her participation in NATO, the improvement of her relations with neighboring Turkey, as well as her friendly ties with the Balkan countries, with the nations of the Mediterranean and with the region of the Middle East, are all evidence of a well-balanced and promissory foreign policy that has been tested with success, under circumstances of extreme complexity and conflicting situations, such as the question of Cyprus, the failed and recent attempt at its unification, or with the crisis in Iraq, which started when Greece held the presidency of the EU. I cannot end this brief analysis about the two Hellenic returns without referring to the friendly relations between Argentina and Greece which have existed forever between the two people and the two governments. The year 2005 will give us the opportunity to strengthen these deep ties and to join our efforts for international Peace and Solidarity, when both countries are elected, most possibly, as non-permanent members of the Security Council by the General Assembly of the United Nations next September. The Argentine Republic and its people wish the greatest success to the Hellenic Republic and to its people in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.