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Deputy Foreign Minister I. Amanatidis' interview on ERA radio with journalist Konstantina Dimitrouli, about the Ancient Civilization Forum
JOURNALIST: We will be talking with Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidis about the Meeting of ten countries that will be taking place here in Greece, if I'm not mistaken.
Good morning, Mr. Amanatidis.
I. AMANATIDIS: Good morning, Mrs. Dimitrouli. Christ is Risen! Many happy returns of the day!
JOURNALIST: Risen indeed! We have a Ministerial Conference of the Ancient Civilizations Forum in a few days.
I. AMANATIDIS: Exactly, Mrs. Dimitrouli. On 24 April. It will be the first Ministerial Conference of the Ancient Civilizations Forum. There are ten countries that make up this particular initiative. It is taking place on the initiative of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, of course, and the invitations were extended together with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
The conference is taking place on 24 April, this Monday. It is a positive agenda for cooperation that we are promoting in the context of international relations. Through this initiative, we are pointing up the multidimensional role Greece can and is playing in the international environment, and this is being realised right now.
JOURNALIST: A new dimension of diplomacy, we might say, Mr. Amanatidis. What we call cultural diplomacy.
I. AMANATIDIS: Exactly. I don't know whether you have mentioned the countries that are participating
JOURNALIST: No. You can tell us.
I. AMANATIDIS: There are Greece and China, of course, and Bolivia, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Mexico and Peru.
JOURNALIST: So, countries that represent great ancient civilizations.
I. AMANATIDIS: Ancient civilizations from different geographical regions.
This forum is yet another link added to all of the initiatives we have taken of late. In 2015 we had the Conference on religious pluralism in the Middle East. We held the Rhodes Conference on security, which will be held again next month, in May.
There is also the quadrilateral platform in Thessaloniki, with the cooperation of four Balkan states, and of course the trilateral schemes we have formed with Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine.
JOURNALIST: And really, Mr. Amanatidis -- Why shouldn't we say it? -- through all of these conferences you have mentioned you have paved the way for a discussion, an internationalized debate on another level. On the intercultural level, on the interfaith level, which, given the developments in international relations, is obviously extremely important.
These two things are interwoven.
I. AMANATIDIS: We will see this in November, when the next meeting is to take place. But right now, we want to promote and talk about how culture can be harnessed as a soft power and a key tool of a multidimensional foreign policy.
In this way, international cultural cooperation can also function as a factor for economic development. In tandem – you should know this, because it might not have come out – an Academic Symposium is being held and will be attended by academics from these countries and last two days.
On Sunday and Monday, 23 and 24 April, academics will talk about the role of culture in the contemporary world. As you know, this is something Foreign Minister Kotzias himself had been working on for some time. We talked about it and he talked about it and moved this Forum ahead.
On Sunday they will talk about the timeless importance and resonance of the ancient civilizations and their influence on and relationship with the modern era. And on the second day – what the academics will be doing is very important – they will focus on culture's role as a source of soft power.
And on 24 April the Foreign Ministers – the 10 Foreign Ministers – will essentially establish the Forum. I think the discussions there will be key to these things' being able to move ahead; that is, the Foreign Ministers will be able to exchange views and issue a declaration of some kind. Finally, on Monday afternoon, there will be a press conference that all of the Foreign Ministers will participate in. And of course the high-ranking guests will visit the Acropolis Museum and a dinner will be hosted for them there.
JOURNALIST: So we will have the Foreign Ministers of these ten countries, including the Chinese Foreign Minister, of course.
I. AMANATIDIS: Yes. The invitations were extended together will the Chinese Foreign Minister. The initiative is ours, but the invitation was issued jointly.
JOURNALIST: Yes. And these countries represent the great civilizations from the four corners of the planet: America, Europe, Asia and Africa. And I think this is of very great interest. And the declaration issued after the Forum will be of even greater interest.
I. AMANATIDIS: Exactly. The Declaration is being formulated. The Foreign Ministers will give it its final form on Monday.
JOURNALIST: Because these are regions that are essentially interwoven right now with international political developments, Mr. Amanatidis, throughout the world.
I. AMANATIDIS: Exactly. In a world that, as you can see, has all of these conflicts, it is very important for us to use culture as a vehicle for promoting friendship, cooperation, peace, stability, prosperity.
And I think this is the best way to bring us much closer together through actions aimed at the goals I have already mentioned.
JOURNALIST: Well, I think that culture, history and language are the three common points that can always unify, rather than divide, the world, even if they appear to be the things that are dividing the world.
I. AMANATIDIS: There are many, many things we have in common. And don't forget that the ten countries represent approximately 40% of the global population and are located on the American, European Asian and African continents. So this is a very important meeting and essentially a further extension of the proactive multidimensional foreign policy that our country needs to implement.
JOURNALIST: Thank you very much. I wish you every success. We will be in touch after the Forum, if you like, to look at the results of the meeting.
I. AMANATIDIS: Thank you very much for inviting me to be here.
JOURNALIST: Thank you. Have a good day.
I. AMANATIDIS: Good day.