Stavros Lambrinidis: Let there be 16 days of peace for the Olympics

From a speech at the London School of Economics by the Ambassador at Large of the Hellenic Republic
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The Independent Online

As the Olympic Games of Athens, 2004, will be returning to their roots this summer, it is important to recall that the vision of the "Olympic Truce" was the key message of the ancient Olympic Games.

As the Olympic Games of Athens, 2004, will be returning to their roots this summer, it is important to recall that the vision of the "Olympic Truce" was the key message of the ancient Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee has invited humanity to embrace this tradition anew: to utilise sport and the Olympic ideals as a window of opportunity for promoting a better, more peaceful world. To allow every world athlete and citizen safe passage and participation at the Games.

In so doing, we recall that this is the message that the UK, Greece, and every nation of the world unanimously endorsed at the UN General Assembly. On 3 November 2003, an unprecedented 190 member states adopted a resolution, submitted by Greece, urging the observance of the Olympic Truce during the Athens Games.

Spreading the symbolic appeal for the Olympic Truce - let alone making it a reality in the modern world - is a challenging endeavour. To some, it may even seem like a utopian dream.

We have no illusions regarding what we can achieve through the Olympic Truce; it is not a universal remedy that will miraculously heal the rifts that ravage so many regions of the world. But the path to peace must be through mutual understanding, respect and cooperation between cultures, religions and civilisations.

The Olympic Games not only embody these values, they provide a means of putting them into practice. And if we can have peace for 16 days, then just, maybe, we can have it forever.

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