The Greek Press Association’s dinner last week, 4 March 2015, proved to be a first class gathering of philhellenes and distinguished London Greeks, confirming its status as one of the top annual social occasions in the capital.
Distinguished guests who gathered at a stronghold of Greek cuisine, the Lemonia in Primrose Hill, included guests of honour Geoffrey Robertson QC, author Artemis Cooper and well known economist Vicky Pryce, as well as former Labour minister Dennis McShane, lawyer Eleni Meleagrou, Channel 4 News Economics Editor Paul Mason, Mike Cooke Director at GFK Research, Stratos Chatzigiannis, President of the Hellenic Bankers Association and of course the Ambassador of Greece Konstantinos Bikas and the Cypriot High Commissioner Evripides Evriviades.
Mr Robertson, who is head of the Doughty Street Chambers and the team that is preparing the case for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum to the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, spoke passionately about his objective.
With the end of March deadline set by UNESCO for the British government to respond to the international organisation’s offer to mediate between London and Athens coming up, Mr Robertson rejected the UK government’s official position that the Marbles are a matter for the BM trustees. “Who signed the export permits for the statue of river God Ilissos to be transferred to the Hermitage in St Petersburgh? Who appoints the majority of the trustees?” he asked.
He also outlined what he called the “Navarino syndrome”, a fear of being rude to the British, to whom successive generations of Greeks are eternally grateful for having helped to kick out the Turks at the Battle of Navarino in 1827, and the Nazis 118 years later.
“There should be no fear of upsetting the British by taking them to court, ” said Robertson, because “the British like being sued. What makes Britain great is that it obeys international law… As Gladstone put it, the arbitrament of the court is preferable to the arbitrament of the sword”.
The charismatic barrister pleased his fellow diners even further by responding with a “why not” to calls for his teammate in the Greek case Amal Clooney to attend next year’s Greek Press Association bash.
Asked to present her biography of the great travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor titled ‘An Adventure’, Artemis Cooper described his wartime exploits in Crete and his life in the Mani, where he lived for over forty years. “Although he was unmistakably British, ” she said, “he felt more relaxed, fulfilled, and alive in Greece than he ever did in his own country.”
Vicky Pryce, whose daughter Georgia was also present, also presented her new book titled ‘It’s The Economy Stupid’, while rejecting unfair stereotypes of her fellow Greeks.
The Greek diaspora and British Greek contingency at the event also featured academics such as Eleni Bazigou (Imperial College) and Prof. Chris Pitelis (University of Bath), economist Danae Kyriakopoulou, Greek consul Soteris Demestihas, the Press Officer of the Greek Embassy George Dardavillas, Nick Hajinikos of Kallinos Communications, John Kyriakides, owner of London Greek Radio, members of the Embassy’s Education Office, Dr Filippos Mavroskoufis (Harley Street dentist and President of the Macedonian Society), Dimitris Monioudis, President of the Hellenic Engineers Society, Theo Theofilis (shipping), George Spantideas, Senior Intelligence Consultant at Critical Publics, Athena Paris (property management), Takis Pappas (shipping), journalists Byron Karydis (LGR), Theopi Skarlatos (BBC), Chloe Hadjimatheou (BBC), Thanasis Gavos (SKAI), Mary Zagoritou, photoreporters Chryssa Panoussiadou (ANA) and Lefteris Pitarakis (AP), Markos Kiessioglou of Reload Greece and the President of the Greek Press Association Martha-Maria Chrysomallis (editor of The Hellenic Times International), who was warmly congratulated and thanked by all the guests for a very successful and very enjoyable evening.
In her welcoming speech, Mrs Crhysomallis said that the Association aims is to bring together Greek, Greek Cypriot and British journalists and develop a strong and productive co-operation among them; also, to encourage the UK Greek residents to become more interested in British politics.
Herebelow is Martha-Maria Chrysomallis’ welcoming speech: