The Role of Awarding Medals


Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Mansion. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

An unusually harsh and open ‘war’ broke out in Greece between the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs over who is responsible for the proposal to award a medal to Jason Apostolopoulos, who has distinguished himself by rescuing refugees.

His name was among the 29 people who were announced as recipients of the Presidential Medal on the 47th anniversary of the Restoration of the Republic, but his recognition was deemed inappropriate and his nomination was withdrawn.

The aforementioned ‘war’ focuses on the process of nominating individuals and awarding them medals.

I know from personal experience that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs submits the names of those it deems worthy of the honor to the President of the Republic, who then awards them their medals during a special ceremony.

Based on this, the law seems to be on the side of Ms. Sakellaropoulou in this matter, who, by the way, is clearly being targeted and seems to be the focus of, at least to some extent, generally unfair criticism.

Setting aside all this fuss, which certainly does not honor anyone, not even the spirit of the Restoration of the Republic, among the names that were made public and who will receive the award are two expatriates – Dr. Albert Bourla and Dr. Konstantinos Daskalakis – who undoubtedly deserve every honor that the Greek state can award them.

I would like to note that at this time AHEPA’s Supreme Convention is being held in Athens.

It is their first Supreme Convention in Athens after many years, but it is also the first general conference held in Athens by Greeks from all over the world in a long time.

The Convention is a vote of confidence in Greece and one that emphasizes the decision of the largest secular organization in the Diaspora, based on the number of its members, to express its Hellenic identity by journeying to the homeland this year.

Of course, it did not cross the mind of any of those who submitted the list to the Presidency of the Republic to include the president, at least, of AHEPA for an award, or any of the expatriates who fought for the Restoration of Democracy in Greece, people like Theodoros Stathis, Theodoros Kouloumbis, and others.

With these words I do not want to take anything away from those who were awarded medals, starting with Mikis Theodorakis. Besides, the honorees are not at all responsible.

I am only expressing my regret that, as often happens, the Greek state does not think of us, the men and women of the Diaspora. And to avoid any misunderstanding, I am not thinking about myself – I was honored with this award a few years ago.

My point is that they are taking us for granted. And that is a great mistake.