On June 21, 2000 the Kokkalis Foundation hosted its first ever Athens Forum, a new lecture series and international forum for politicians, academics and other officials in Southeastern Europe.
The keynote speaker at the event was the Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School, Joseph Nye Jr., one of the world’s most distinguished public policy experts. Nye, who has previously served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, lectured on the regional effects of globalization and on new trends in economics, politics, and institutional organization. Identifying Greece as a model nation in the Balkans, Nye emphasized the dramatic impact that technological innovation will have on regional development patterns. The Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Papandreou, provided an introduction to the evening’s events, in which he welcomed the Kokkalis Foundation’s initiative, underlining the fact that the Athens Forum will contribute greatly to the promotion of cooperation and stability in the Balkans.
The President of Kokkalis Foundation, Socrates Kokkalis, stressed that the aim of the new initiative is to build bridges of peace, friendship, and cooperation in the region. The contributions of the Kennedy School were recognized as vital to the achievement of this goal.
A presentation acknowledging the projects and work of the Kokkalis Program at Harvard was also delivered at the event. Since its inception, the Kokkalis Program has organized more than 100 lectures, conferences, and discussions dedicated to promoting regional understanding and to analyzing important issues of public interest. The Kokkalis Program has also provided full scholarships for many talented scholars at Harvard and has initiated summer school programs for Harvard students in the Balkans.
The first Athens Forum attracted a distinguished group of guests from the region’s political, business, and academic communities. Among others, the attendees included US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns, the Greek Minister of Education, Mr. Petros Efthimiou, the Athens Mayor, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Chairman of Athens 2004, Gianna Angelopoulou, and the Dean of the University of Athens, Mr. Giannis Babiniotis.