“I don’t know whether I am a Greek more than I am a descendant of the Romans,” French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said at a ceremony marking the departure of Greece’s ambassador to Paris, Dimitris Karataidis. De Villepin was making special reference to Greece’s role in Europe. The truth is, Europe is in a state of crisis and not merely one of flux. The EU faces a complex conundrum: a crisis of identity, the challenges of globalization and the emergence of new economic powerhouses such as India, Brazil and South Africa. Within that shifting context, Greece is busy sketching out the strategy that best suits its place in Europe and the world beyond. That’s all to the good. But Greece must also take initiatives closer to home. De Villepin suggested that Greece can improve its image in a country that still enjoys a leading status in Europe: France. Europe should not be defined solely on the basis of religious criteria, namely as a Protestant-Catholic club, but rather along historical and political lines, based on its Greco-Roman heritage, humanist values, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the welfarist tradition. It was this Greco-Roman culture that de Villepin was pointing to. And drawing on these reserves, Greece can improve not only its image in France but even contribute to the rebirth of European identity in general. If, as is widely expected, Paris is today picked to host the 2012 Olympic Games, that verdict could work in our favor too – provided we don’t limit our ambitions to the world of sport. Greece should take advantage of France’s strong standing and see a Paris Olympiad as an opportunity to promote our own active presence, using our knowledge, imagination and inventiveness. That would yield diverse and far-reaching benefits.