Memorial event for Marietta Giannakou with keynote speaker Costas Karamanlis – “She always serves as a bright beacon for all of us in a foggy landscape”
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended on Monday the memorial event for Marietta Giannakou organized by the Panhellenic Women’s Organization “Panathinaiki”, at the Athens Concert Hall.
At the event, which was prefaced by the Speaker of the Parliament, Konstantinos Tasoulas, the keynote speaker was former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, while former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, members of the Cabinet, and New Democracy officials were also present.
Konstantinos Tasoulas spoke of “a special event, of a special Association for a special friend and personality”. He emphasized that this is an “event of honor in memory of a personality who turned work into an offer, the offer into recognition and the recognition into justification”, and described Marietta Giannakou as a politician of the broadest consensus.
He said that while preparing for the event, he consulted Evangelos Averof’s archive and especially a note dated Tuesday 22 May 1984 for the European elections of 17 June, pointing out that in the list of MEP candidates, Marietta Giannakou was included among the “worthy party officials who they had to be recognized”. He added that Marietta Giannakou justified her choice with the above and five years later she was placed in charge of the ND’s European ballot, in 1989.
Mr. Tasoulas also mentioned that it is a model of political development, which was recognized by successive ND presidents, and mentioned the words of M. Giannakou who said that for her, education is not a mechanism that teaches us to avoid our responsibilities, but how to perceive and honor our responsibilities. He characterized M. Giannakou as “an example of enriching political life more valuable than ever” and finally emphasized that Marietta Giannakou’s file is already in the Parliament and will soon be available.
At the event, the president of the pan-Hellenic women’s organization “Panathinaiki”, Maria Gianniri, addressed the event, stating that Marietta Giannakoun is honored among brave women who left their own mark.
The former prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, began by referring to Marietta Giannakou’s biographical details, describing her as “serious, measured, noble and at the same time militant, persistent, with deep faith in her ideas”.
“I met Marietta almost 50 years ago, in the fall of 1974. I met her – where else? – along the lines of the Youth Organization of the New Democracy, in the first months of the Post-Revolutionary period. In that era of intense ideological searches, endless debates and debates, when still, beyond and above individual differences, young people were inspired by ambitious visions,” he quoted.
Marietta Giannakou “had a clear and well-argued opinion – continued the former prime minister. She was inspired by the great ideals of national independence, the smooth functioning of democracy, social justice, and the country’s European perspective, as expressed by Konstantinos Karamanlis with his politics. With an independent and competitive spirit, he was always a pioneer in the battles of ideas.”
He also made special reference to the way he dealt with the issue of the History book and the controversial wording on the destruction of Smyrna, stressing that the changes had to be made “in a coordinated manner, by the competent bodies and institutional procedures. Respect for the institutional order is the highest duty of each government in a democratic state”.
Afterwards, she spoke about her strong belief in parliamentarism, which as she said “is highlighted by the attitude she maintained during the period when, as Minister of Education, she presented and put for consultation the educational reform and the framework law for higher education. Giannakou was indeed looking for a National Dialogue on Education, but unfortunately to deaf ears. With foresight, courage and determination, he proposed intersections in a space dominated by all kinds of interests, the struggle and the half-hearted effort”.
In conclusion, Mr. Karamanlis also emphasized that it is comforting and a personal vindication for her, that several of her reforms are coming back and being institutionalized today, even with a delay of many years.
She made special mention of the fact that her specialty in psychiatry “brought her face to face in the field, in clinics, support structures and rehab units, with the scourge of drugs. This experience, the management of the personal Golgotha of the mostly young users, but also of their families, was a catalyst for Giannakou.”
He also emphasized that “Marietta Giannakou was a genuine European player. Faithful to the ideal of European integration to create a truly European governance with a federal structure. And he had, above all, the belief that despite the adversities and setbacks, the European Union had the ability to continuously deepen the cooperation of its states and peoples, and that in the long run the overall process of European integration would eventually lead to the realization of the primary European vision”. He even commented that “today, of course, the European structure does not meet the expectations of its visionaries and does not give rise to optimism that it is following this direction. In many even critical cases, it has disappointed. It has not managed to achieve a rudimentary consensus on what constitute the very fundamental principles and values of the European edifice. Unfortunately, the defense of the petty interests of the individual member states has prevailed, over the defense of our pan-European principles and values, which are exactly what define us and make our Union unique.”
He also reminded about Marietta Giannakou, that “another important intervention of hers towards the European Convention for the drafting of the European Constitution stands out: Marietta firmly believed in the importance of the participation of all citizens in the European becoming and the process of European integration. He supported the arrangement for the “people’s initiative”, on the basis of which one million citizens could request the undertaking of a specific legislative initiative by the European institutions.
Mr. Karamanlis, concluding, pointed out that “at a time when attitudes or motives in public life are increasingly being questioned on a global level, we need more than ever virtuous models. Marietta’s greatest contribution to society, beyond her important work, is her character, her journey, her example.” As well as that “for this character of hers she always serves for all of us as a bright beacon in a foggy landscape.”
In closing, he emphasized that “in the end, what made Marietta stand out was her integrity. In all aspects of public and personal life. Honest and sincere in her relationships, noble but with too much courage of opinion, warm, but at the same time strict with everyone and primarily with herself. In two words, a man of principles, with a capital letter “alpha”. And he concluded: “I deeply believe, as I think everyone who lived her closely believes, that Marietta is always by our side, as always hand in hand on the difficult uphills of virtue.”
A short speech about Marietta Giannakou was also given by Elmar Brock, former chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, a video with excerpts from her statements was shown and the event ended with an open discussion, in which the journalist Marianna Pyrgioti, the journalist and former Minister of Education, Petros Efthymiou, the Member of Parliament for Athens 1st, former Minister and former Mayor of Athens, Nikitas Kaklamanis, the university and former G.C. of the Ministry of Education and Religion, Andreas Karamanos and the political scientist and former MP, Vaso Kollia.
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