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Greek Ambassador strengthens links with academia

By Patrick Nelson

Professor Giselle Byrnes, the Greek Ambassador Charalampos Dafaranos and Associate Professor George Frazis Professor Giselle Byrnes, the Greek Ambassador Charalampos Dafaranos and Associate Professor George Frazis

The Greek Ambassador to Australia, Charalampos Dafaranos, says academia continues to have a vital role in advancing goodwill between the two countries, which already enjoy a rich and deep relationship.

“[With] opportunities all over the country for cooperation with academic institutions … we can do many things,” Mr Dafaranos said.

“I think the opportunity for intellectuals to come and speak from Greece (and) from Australia, which is a philhellene country par excellence … is a beautiful dimension.”

Mr Dafaranos made the comments during a recent visit to Charles Darwin University Casuarina campus, where he spoke about the endurance of the Hellenic spirit and the relevance of Greece’s “soft power” in modern times.

“Soft power is the ability to attract and influence without coercion … it is the ability to act positively, using a number of tools,” he said. 

“It is the constellation of components such as history, image, prestige, national brands, intellectuals, artists, athletes, designers, literature, music, television, cinema and … all (the) factors which make the persona of a specific country.

“In international politics the ultimate power is influence with respect.”

Mr Dafaranos said the Hellenic spirit gave him confidence that Greece would endure beyond the economic predicament that had troubled it for the past five years.

“It is very important to see the origin; where we came from and how resilient we have been as a civilisation and to see the dynamic and vibrant diaspora all over the world.

“Our ancestors laid the seeds of philosophy, science (and) the arts; put emphasis on freedom, the notion of man, rational thinking, synthesis and analysis, aesthetics as well as ethics.

"The values and the governance pattern of the Western World find their origins in the ancient Greek Athenian democracy. So, it is not an exaggeration to mention that, in a sense, we are all Greeks.

“… I think it is befitting to be seen as a country which moves with ups and downs, but in the end it is the heritage and the Hellenic spirit that will prevail.”

Mr Dafaranos met with Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Law, Education, Business and Arts Professor Giselle Byrnes, and Associate Professor George Frazis, the recently appointed head of CDU’s Greek Studies program.

“We were delighted to host His Excellency and wife Eva and facilitate an enriching of the strong bonds CDU shares with the local Greek community,” Professor Byrnes said.

“It has been through the tenacity, goodwill, commitment and ongoing contribution of the Greek community that we have been able to establish our Greek Studies program.”