Speech – Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović Presentation Ceremony of the 1st Costa Carras European Citizens Award for the Safeguard of Endangered Heritage
26 April 2023, European Cultural Centre of Delphi, Greece
Speech by Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra
It has always been difficult to speak after our Costa…
But I shall do my best to live up to standard of this great European personality who has been and remain my spiritual Father.
Madam President of the Hellenic Republic
Madam President of Elliniki Etaria, Dear Lydia
Mister President of the Delphi Economic Forum, Dear Symeon
Dear Colleagues and Friends
Why have Europa Nostra and Elliniki Etairia decided to jointly launch the Costa Carras European Citizens Award for the Safeguard of Cultural and Natural heritage?
Because Costa Carras was an iconic champion of Europe’s shared cultural heritage and values, and this for a period of half a century. And because, we all gathered in this room, and many more people across Greece, across Europe and beyond, are Costa’s admirers and disciples.
By launching this European Award, we wish to perpetuate the memory of this great European who was always ahead of our time. A brilliant mind and legendary voice, who has been calling for “Paradigm Shifts” ever since he, together with his wife Lydia and a small number of visionary people founded Elliniki Etairia, 50 years ago!
For Europa Nostra, this is also a symbolic gesture to honour the legacy of one of our greatest leaders, and this in the year in which we celebrate our 60th anniversary. But this Award is so much more than a tribute to our Costa, this is the way to encourage present and future generations of Europe’s citizens to follow his power of example.
Madam President of the Hellenic Republic
We are particularly honoured by your presence at this ceremony. Throughout your career, you have been yourself the champion of one of Europe’s most fundamental values, the rule of law and the power of democracy which draws its strength from citizen participation. Indeed, our joint commitment to the protection of Europe’s cultural and natural heritage goes hand in hand with our commitment to the defense of fundamental human rights and the rule of law.
Dear Colleages and Friends
We are convinced that Delphi is the right place for us to reiterate and carry forward Costa Carras’ firm belief that culture and our cultural heritage are the true foundation of the entire European project.
It is definitely not a mere coincidence that we are today gathered in Delphi to honour the first laureate of the Costa Carras European Citizens Award – the Romanian NGO ARA – Architecture. Restoration. Archeaology.
So many people have referred to the symbolism of Delphi – the naval of the ancient world, today one of the most wonderous World Heritage Sites. The place where the spirit of Apollo is still alive. Costa loved and knew very well so many heritage places in Europe, but Delphi had a special place in his heart. When he was not busy campaigning for the preservation of the beauty and authenticity of the Delphic landscape, he would regularly come to Delphi with Lydia to walk and gain additional inspiration and energy.
It is also highly symbolic that we find ourselves in the premises of the European Cultural Centre, which was created 50 years ago at the time when Greece was returning to the family of democratic nations gathered around the values of the Council of Europe. As we have heard earlier today from its President, this Centre is the place which nurtures and fosters European ideas and ideals, to which the Greek civilisation has made such a unique contribution. We need such places, more than ever.
Last but not least, it is not a mere chance that one of the founding partners of the Costa Carras European Citizens Award is the Delphi Economic Forum. Why? Because, under the visionary leadership of its founding President, Symeon Tsomokos, Delphi Economic Forum is becoming known as the most poetic and most humanistic of all Economic Fora which are organised across the Globe. This was very visible during today’s opening ceremony and is also reflected in the programme of this year’s Forum.
Europa Nostra is very proud to have become, since last year, a content partner of the Forum and we look forward, together with our country representation in Greece, Elliniki Etairia, to work together with you to further deepen and enlarge the cultural dimension of this invaluable gathering.
Yes, let us together re-imagine a better, more sustainable, more inclusive, more peaceful and…. more beautiful Europe and World. Our cultural and natural heritage forms a key vector to achieve this ambitious but necessary objective. A strategic resource which is – alas – non-renewable, but it is definitely non-polluting! It contributes to give a meaning, a heart and a soul to all our endeavours, including the wide world of economy.
We are particularly happy that the very first laureate of the Costa Carras European Citizens Award comes from Romania, from the region of the South-East Europe. This region was particularly dear to the heart of Costa Carras! We are delighted that this region – in which I was also born and raised – occupies today a key place in the commitment of Greece and of the Delphi Economic Forum for a more peaceful Europe.
We thank you all for your presence at this ceremony and we wish a especially warm welcome to the representatives of the highly deserving laurate – ARA: Claudia and Virgil Apostol and Stefan Balici!