SOCIETY

Crisis inspires new forums for debate

Together with all the many negative aspects of the ongoing economic crisis, there have been some positives as well in the form of exchanges of ideas and proposals by new groups and organizations such as TedxAthens, TEDxAcademy, Intelligence Squared Greece and Open Coffee, which are but a few of the many organizing popular public events.

Of course, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) has been organizing such events for some years now, as have the Athens Concert Hall with its Megaron Plus open lectures and, more recently, the B we want to come up with an idea, each of us and all together,? said Papapolyzos.

Open Coffee Greece

Open Coffee was born before the crisis hit, in 2007, also by a group of young people still at university. Here, the main concept is exchanging ideas relating to technology and entrepreneurship.

According to Giorgos Tziralis, one of the organizers, it is an open community, with free admission, where people ?with common interests can exchange ideas and visions, find potential working partners and, mainly, some common ground. Instead of complaining about nothing happening in Greece, we decided to do something. We are all people who don?t see any vision in the options that are open to us, so we have to make our own options. We took a different path to protest, that of action.?

The original concept was for the Open Coffee meetings to be held in English and to start with a cup of coffee.

?We meet once a month, at the Benaki Museum cafe, at 6 p.m. At 7.30 p.m. we move to the amphitheater, where there are lectures and discussions,? explained Tziralis.

ELIAMEP

The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) is one of the veterans in Greece in the arena of public debate and discourse. According to its president, Professor Loukas Tsoukalis, ?in its 23 years of operation, ELIAMEP has produced research and publications, and has become recognized as the most reputable center on the study and dissemination of issues concerning Greece?s international relations and foreign policy, with readership abroad.?

ELIAMEP?s areas of research include the management of European Union funds in Greece, as well as issues pertaining to immigration, climate change and the media.

?We constantly watch development in the Balkans, in Turkey and in the countries of the Middle East. We participate, often in a leading role, in bilateral collaborations on issues that are important to European governance,? said Tsoukalis.

ELIAMEP organizes a variety of talks and debates that are not always restricted to foreign policy and invite active participation in the public discourse.

?For 2011 I?ll mention the ?Antiparatheseis? series, which covered a wide range of topics, from the development of the capital?s former international airport at Elliniko to the dysfunction of the justice system in Greece, to public debates on development in the Arab world and the crisis of state legitimacy and institutions in Greece, as well as the talks given by Joschka Fischer, Ahmet Davutoglu and Herman Van Rompuy.?

Tsoukalis stresses that ELIAMEP is independent and inclusive. ?It does not have a ?line? insofar as the opinions expressed by its associates. It is not an instrument of any state, party or private body. It promotes the free exchange of ideas, well-informed opinions and critical thinking. It does not encourage oversimplification, conspiracy theories, intolerance and blind nationalism. The common opinion/position shared by its associates is that the future of Greece is directly tied to its role as an equal and active partner in a unified Europe.?