Athens Mayor Awards South African President City Medal of Honour
Mayor Dora Bakoyannis today awarded the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki,
with the City of Athens Medal of Honour at a special ceremony at City Hall. "South
Africa and Greece are bound with the strongest fraternal ties for the entire 20th
A brotherhood in the cause of freedom and of a common struggle
during two world wars. One must add to these the relatively large Greek-South
African community and, above all, the belief of the vast majority of our peoples
in the equality of men, and hence, in the necessity for fighting Apartheid in
all its forms," Mayor Bakoyannis said.
"There is a second reason
this ceremony takes on for us an importance deeper than usual. It concerns the
strong symbolism embodied in your own person. You symbolise, Mr. President, the
long and tortuous struggle against Apartheid. You have acquired your formal higher
education amidst grave difficulties; you have travelled, worked and built underground
structures for your movement in more than one African country as well as in Europe."
Bakoyannis concluded: "May our strong ties of the 20th century, forged in
times of misfortune, war and inequality, culminate this century in the final success
of the process of peace, fraternity and prosperity."
said: "The things that you said constitute somewhat of challenge. Because
this means we then have to make sure that in future we not dishonour this medal
That we do not do things that would mean that we didn't deserve
this order of merit. And it is a commitment that I would like to make that I will
do everything I can to make sure that this vision you projected of a world of
peace, of fraternity, of prosperity; that that world does indeed come to be."
President Mbeki congratulated the Mayor on a "great achievement"
for being the first woman mayor of Athens, and added that there are too few women
mayors around the world.
Mr Mbeki invited Mayor Bakoyannis to assist in
building a new South Africa, "as we try to respond to the challenge of a
fast-growing, expanding South Africa in towns and cities.
To say what it
is we need to do better to address the challenges that face these communities
Surely there are many things that Athens can teach us so that we do not waste
time by trying to think afresh or invent things that Athens is already doing.
But we should draw on that experience, good experience in successfully
hosting the Olympic Games last year, in particular in the context of what we shall
have to do in a few years' time to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup."
City of Athens International Media Department
25 February 2005