The seventh Secretary-General of UN’s International Maritime Organization Efthimios Mitropoulos received the 2010 Niki award for his “extraordinary contribution to the advancement of international law and technology for the safety of human life at sea and the protection of the marine environment worldwide.” The award was presented on behalf of Friends of AIT by His Beatitude Hieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece on December 16, 2010, at Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens before an audience of 380 guests, including Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Mr. Ioannis Diamantidis, the new Athens Mayor Mr. George Kaminis, the Chairman of the Hellenic Supreme Court Mr. Giorgos Kalamidas, the honorary leader of the Hellenic Coast Guard Mr. Thanasis Boussios, ship owners, entrepreneurs, scholars and artists. Greetings remarks were offered by the President of the Hellenic Parliament Mr. Philippos Petsalnikos, by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and by H.R.M. Queen Rania of Jordan.
In his acceptance speech Mr. Mitropoulos stated that AIT and IMO share common motives and goals in their respective areas. He said "the humanistic mission of AIT, the development of international academic cooperation towards the advancement of education and training, science, research and technology, finds resonance in my personal and my professional interests." Referring to the issue of climate change in his quality of IMO Secretary-General, Efthimios Mitropoulos expressed the hope that the 2011 UN summit in South Africa will enable the adoption of a binding agreement "for the long term regulation of environmental protection both by developed and developing countries." On behalf of the IMO and the international shipping community, he thanked Greece for its participation with naval units in the international efforts against piracy in Somali waters. Mr. Mitropolis concluded by expressing his admiration and gratefulness for being in the world of shipping, an area "where Greece has international lead." In his address, Archbishop Hieronymos II congratulated Mr. Mitropoulos praising his contribution to Greece and to "the advancement of knowledge, cooperation and high ideals, as well as his widely recognized efforts towards the protection of the marine environment. "
The Chairman of the Board of AIT, Socrates Kokkalis said that "Mr. Mitropoulos career as a leader of one of the most powerful global institutions is a source of inspiration not only to Greek youth but also to all Greek educational and research institutions. "
The work of Mr. Mitropoulos was presented by the President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping Mr. George Gratsos.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is engaged in the promotion of maritime safety and security and in the prevention of sea pollution from ships. The IMO is the world’s pre-eminent maritime body and the only forum where safety, security and pollution prevention and control standards affecting shipping are developed and adopted.
Friends of AIT has established the annual Niki Award to honor Greek scientists, and scientists of Greek descent, who are recognized by the international community for their contribution to the world of science and technology and who inspire new scientists to follow in their footsteps. Last year the prize was given to University of Chicago Astrophysics Professor Thanasis Oikonomou, who has designed the robotic equipment for several NASA missions to Mars.
A commemorative album was offered as a gift to each guest during the award ceremony and the proceeds of the event consolidate the Scholarship, Awards and Financial Aid Fund, established by Friends of AIT and supervised by AIT’s Board of Directors. The sole goal of the Fund is to procure the necessary funds for funding talented and financially deserving students. To date, the Fund has financed grants to 365 students from 21 countries, equivalent to a total of 4.8 million Euros.