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Deputy FM I. Amanatidis' welcome speech at the signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Hellenic Foundation for Culture and the Hellenic Communities of Alexandria and Cairo
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with a sense of great honour and pleasure that I am here today, at an important moment for the cultural activities of the Hellenic Communities of Alexandria and Cairo, which I myself have visited. In particular, I would like to thank the General Secretariat of Information and Communication, as well as the Hellenic Community of Alexandria for taking this initiative.
It is well known that Egypt is a friendly neighbouring country, the birthplace of a very important culture in the history of humanity; a culture that interacted with Hellenic culture starting in ancient times.
The ties between Greeks and Egyptians were forged through the passage of millennia. Of pivotal importance to the cultures of both countries, of course, was the cosmopolitan spirit of Alexander the Great, who set the relations between the two peoples on a new, closer foundation. Alexandria and its library are the first repository of Hellenic civilisation.
Today, the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria is keeping alive the sacred tradition of the Patriarchal Throne of the founder of the Alexandrian Church, Saint Mark, timelessly supporting the Greek Orthodox presence in Egypt.
At the same time, the Greek communities of Alexandria and Cairo -- among the first and most dynamic organizational structures of Diaspora Hellenism in the world -- constitute, together with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, longstanding bridges of communication and friendship between the two countries. The Boards and members of the Hellenic Communities of Alexandria and Cairo are worthy of public praise for their passionate and tireless efforts to maintain the Greek language and Greek culture, through high cultural creation.
The fertile interactions in the sector of culture, the work of Constantine Cavafy and Konstantinos Parthenis, the multitude of writers, artists, entrepreneurs, diplomats and politicians of international fame who were produced by the Greek community of Egypt mark the relationship of deep friendship that links our peoples and are auspices of the best possible outcome of the efforts being made jointly in our wider region, by the governments of Greece and Egypt, against intolerance and violent extremism.
The strengthening and enhancement of our relations with Egypt is a long-term choice of the Greek government in the sectors of energy, tourism and education, with the ultimate goal of the peaceful co-existence of our peoples in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region. The trilateral conference between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt is indisputable proof of our multidimensional foreign policy.
In this direction, the exercising of educational and cultural diplomacy is opening up new roads in our bilateral relations. Greece recognises Egypt as a critical partner - within the framework of UNESCO and other international organizations -- for undertaking initiatives on issues of shared interest, with protection of cultural heritage topping the list.
Greece has also contributed in many ways to the new Biliotheca Alexandrina. Specifically, the Foreign Ministry, through its competent E1 Directorate, funded the making of the statue of the Library's founder, Dimitrios Falirios. Also noteworthy are the years of activity on the part of the Association of Friends of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Today's signing ceremony for the memorandum of cooperation between the Hellenic Foundation for Culture and the Hellenic Communities of Alexandria and Cairo is yet another threshold in further strengthening the ties between the two countries, bolstering the relationship between the homeland and such a dynamic community of the Hellenic Diaspora.
I wholeheartedly wish you every success and rich intellectual and artistic creation.