Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, was awarded the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor of the Republic of France on Tuesday, July 12th,.
The ceremony took place at the French Embassy in Athens, and was hosted by His Excellency Christophe Chantepy, Ambassador of France in Greece.
Mr. Dracopoulos was honored for his and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s, philanthropic contributions to France and around the world.
The National Order of the Legion of Honor (Ordre National de la Legion d’honneur) is the premier order of the French Republic. It was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, as a general military and civil order of merit, and it is conferred without regard to birth and/or religion, provided that anyone admitted swears to uphold liberty and equality.
Ranks of the Legion of Honor may be awarded to foreign citizens in recognition of actions benefitting the country of France or, more broadly, in honor of achievements which endorse its ideals.
In his speech Mr. Dracopoulos said:
C’est avec grand plaisir et fierte que je recois cette haute decoration de la Republique francaise. Je vous remercie pour l’honneur fait a ma personne et je vous prie de transmettre mes hommages a la Presidence de la Republique et au Conseil de l’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur. La portee de cette prestigieuse distinction se resume en deux mots « Honneur et Patrie », deux mots qui sont a eux seuls l’apanage de nos pays, la France et la Grece. En cette occasion, permettez-moi, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, de remercier en votre presence mon defunt oncle et fondateur de notre Fondation, Stavros Niarchos, sans qui je ne serais pas ici ce soir, ainsi que mes precieux collaborateurs a la Fondation avec lesquels je voudrais partager cet honneur exclusif.
As I mentioned above, I would like to thank my uncle and founder of our Foundation, Stavros Niarchos, without whom I would not be here today. I would like to dedicate the honor You are extending me, to him as well as to all of my colleagues in our Foundation, with whom we have worked hard and—I would like to believe—effectively in the last 20 years of our activity in the field of philanthropy worldwide.
Greek-French relations have deep and historical roots. They go back the important ideological movement of French philhellenism in the 19th century, which was of critical significance for the Greek Revolution of 1821, and continue to this day.
Such cooperation is crucial today, now more than ever. We live in difficult times, and everything we once held as “fact” is now being challenged. The problems faced in Greece, in Europe and worldwide, are big. The daily feeling of constant polarization is now an ugly reality. The global economic system we once knew needs to be adjusted, to be able to cope with the current, highly demanding, conditions. The system needs to assume a more genuinely social form. At the same time, the welfare state cannot survive on its own.
What is needed is proper partnerships, the building of a “welfare society”, where the public and private sectors will work together for the good of all, without hidden agendas, with meritocracy and transparency. In such a context, philanthropy may also contribute, in a creative and complementary manner. It is no longer just an option, but an absolute necessity, in order to ensure the safety and health of society.
Only such a healthy and strong society will be able to cope with current challenges and simultaneously repel all kinds of “extremes” on its own.
During its years of philanthropic activities in 111 nations, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation has had a special relationship with France, and it continues to do so. A tangible indication of this relationship is the fact that during the last decade, the Foundation has approved 175 grants, totaling €19 million.
Our grants have covered the needs of Museums—including the Louvre—hospitals and various nonprofit organizations operating in France, in the fields of social welfare, health, art and education. At the same time, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation has supported initiatives by French organizations, which operate and provide services in various countries—especially in Africa and particularly, Francophonie—facing serious social problems.
Our actions continue to this day, unabated. Indicatively, I would like to mention a few significant grants that have been approved recently, towards the Centre Antoine Lacassagne, in Nice, for the acquisition of a 4D scanner, to the Enfance et Partage Association, for a free phone helpline dedicated to new parents, to the Federation Francaise des Equipes Saint Vincent providing shelter for women victims of violence, to ZUPdeCo, in Paris, for educational aid to children with limited financial support, to the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice for the “Humanize the Hospital” program, and to the Association Fratelli, in Paris, for supporting talented youths. In this context, I can assure You of the Board’s intention to continue the multifaceted activity of our Foundation in Your country.
Specifically, on this point, I would like to mention that, following our preliminary contact with You in the context of the Foundation’s long-term cooperation with the French Institute of Athens, we are discussing—in a very positive atmosphere—a new idea to support a major project for strengthening youth entrepreneurship.
Μonsieur l’Ambassadeur, soyez assure de l’expression de ma sincere reconnaissance et de ma profonde gratitude