Annual symposium puts Brexit in the spotlight, goes hybrid

Annual symposium puts Brexit in the spotlight, goes hybrid

The 4th Greek-British symposium, an annual meeting of leading representatives of British and Greek science, entrepreneurship, politics, the arts and the media, takes place Friday, in hybrid form.

The event, which was first held in 2017 at the initiative of British Ambassador to Greece Kate Smith, is of particular interest this year in light of political and social developments surrounding Brexit.

“You can measure the success of an event by the extent to which people who didn’t attend it talk about it afterwards – and that has happened every year with the symposium,” Smith told Kathimerini.

“Over the last few years, the symposium has become a key forum for celebrating the bilateral relationship; allowing us to develop and deepen ties; and explore the most pressing issues of the day for both our countries. This year, we are taking a step further and exploring new approaches in areas where the UK and Greece can work together to address wider challenges and contribute to shaping the global agenda,” she said.

This year’s event has been adapted to pandemic-related restrictions. Only a small number of speakers will be present at the Grande Bretagne hotel in central Athens, while most guests as well as the audience are invited to attend panel discussions online.

The key axes of this year’s forum are climate and energy, the future of work, mobility and travel, and China.

Organizers say that although there is an obvious and important Covid-19 slant to all the issues on the agenda, they hope that the pandemic will not entirely monopolize discussions.

Speakers this year include Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Britain’s Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, Greece’s Alternate Minister for Migration Giorgos Koumoutsakos, Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis, Aegean Airlines Chairman Eftychios Vassilakis, Conservative lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, president of the Greek-UK Parliamentary Friendship Group Makarios Lazaridis and his British counterpart Alberto Costa, Nick Butler, an energy economist at King’s College, Will Hutton, principal of Hertford College, Oxford, Alexander Betts, professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at Oxford, and Rikard Skoufias of the Hellenic Hydrocarbon Resources Management (HHRM).

Stathis N. Kalyvas, the Gladstone Professor of Government at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, will wrap up the forum.

“The Greek-British Symposium is a new initiative, but becoming an institution – a means of deepening and broadening contacts and exchanges between the UK and Greece and between Brits and Greeks,” said Lord Maude, veteran Conservative politician the British chairman of the symposium.

“And it’s not ‘official’ – because it’s privately funded and organized which means our discussions are frank, open and wide ranging. That’s been part of its success – as well as the conviviality which its name suggests,” he said.

A key component of the forum’s success, according to the symposium’s Greek chairman, Costas Mitropoulos, also chairman of Attica Bank, is networking. “We bring together a select group of leaders from business, politics, media, culture and academia to discuss under the Chatham House rule,” he said.

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