Athens, 14 October 2020
Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO, spoke in the ERT-1 News Bulletin, and specifically to the journalist Mrs. Adriana Paraskevopoulou, on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
Mrs. Vardinoyannis gave an interview on the occasion of the 2.500th Anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Naval Battle of Salamis. She spoke about the great humanitarian work that was carried out with the funds of the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation dedicated to the Anniversary Year “Thermopylae-Salamis 2020”, emphasizing that “we placed Human from the beginning as the focus of the Anniversary Events”.
Mrs. Vardinoyannis also announced the participation of the “Marianna V. Foundation” in the “Initiative 1821-2021” which is joined by the most important foundations of Greece. “I deeply love my country. Above all, I am Greek and I always try to be present, whenever I am asked“, Mrs. Vardinoyannis noted, while announcing that she will contribute to the international promotion of the national anniversary of the 200 years since the outbreak of the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the War of Independence by organizing events at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, but also in UN Headquarters in New York.
She also spoke about the pandemic and the need for free vaccination, which she is fighting for through her international contacts, stressing that “health is not a privilege for the few, but a basic human right“.
On the occasion of the recent recognition of her work by the UN with the “Nelson Mandela Prize 2020”, but also by H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic with the “Grand Cross of the Order of Beneficence”, Mrs. Vardinoyannis spoke about women in modern society, saying: “I believe a lot in women. I have always believed and I fight for equal opportunities. In this area, of course, we still have a long way to go. But it is a battle that is worth fighting for, because when women succeed, our societies ultimately succeed.“
The following is the transcript of the interview:
Adriana Paraskevopoulou: She is a diverse personality with a rich social work that has been awarded with the many prizes with which she has been honoured in Greece and abroad and recently spoke to the ERT News Bulletin.
We welcome to our bulletin the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Mrs. Marianna Vardinoyannis.
Good evening, Mrs. Vardinoyannis.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Good evening, Mrs. Paraskevopoulou, and thank you very much for this honouring invitation.
Adriana Paraskevopoulou: Thank you very much for the acceptance. So you have taken over the Presidency of the Honorary Committee of the Anniversary Year “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020”. How much has the coronavirus pandemic changed your plans for action and message promotion internationally, and what do you think will remain as a legacy?
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Due to the conditions of the pandemic, our initial planning changed to a great extent since a large part of the funds of our Foundation that had been budgeted for the Celebrations was given in support of vulnerable groups and I think that was the right decision.
Of course I have to tell you that our vision was not the impressive events anyway. We focused on Human and Ideas.
Because, in the end, the legacy of Thermopylae and Salamis are ideas. The ideas of Democracy, Virtue and Freedom. Values and ideas on which Western Civilization was founded.
I deeply love my country. Above all, I am Greek and I always try to be present, whenever I am asked. Recently, for example, I received from Mr. Yannis Manos a proposal to participate, with my Foundation, in the “Initiative 1821-2021” of the most important public and scientific Foundations of the country, as well as the National Bank of Greece.
I accepted this proposal with great pleasure and I would like to offer by promoting our history with projects and actions at an international level. This is what matters. As a Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO, with events at the headquarters of the Organization and of course organizing events at the headquarters of the United Nations with my new capacity and mission assigned to me by the United Nations and the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Antonio Guterres.
Adriana Paraskevopoulou: At the forefront of the pandemic crisis now, are you considering taking initiatives both in support of action and at the research level for the coronavirus vaccine and in general?
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: From the first moment of the pandemic, my first thought was that such a serious crisis could not be dealt with at a national level, but with global cooperation. Through international contacts, I have joined forces with initiatives that really underline this very need, such as Gordon Brown’s and Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus’. We are all experiencing unprecedented conditions together and we must all take important steps together.
Exchange of scientific data between states, transnational agreements with pharmaceutical companies for free distribution of the vaccine, creation of infrastructure for mass production of the vaccine when it is found, additional recruitment of medical and nursing staff, improvement of health infrastructure. If this will not be done then the vaccine will be a privilege for the few. And we must not allow that! Health is not a privilege of the few, but a right. Basic human right for everyone.
Adriana Paraskevopoulou: We are all being put to a test. You were recently honored by the United Nations with the Nelson Mandela Prize, which is the highest honour for your action. Is there an area you think you need, perhaps because of the circumstances to focus your work?
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: This award for me, Mrs. Paraskevopoulou, was a great honour that I had never imagined! What I felt from the first moment is that this award is a recognition of our country as my efforts are efforts of every Greek man and woman who has always been by my side. That is why I dedicated it to my country and to all Greeks.
Of course, I must tell you that this award is a very big responsibility. It is named after one of the most important personalities of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela.
Adriana Paraskevopoulou: You had another highest distinction this year. You became the first woman to be honored with the Grand Cross of the Order of Beneficence of the Hellenic Republic. Is it more difficult for women today, even if they offer much, that their work is finally recognized?
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I feel deeply honored by this distinction and it makes my need to offer to my country even greater. You give me the opportunity to express through this TV Channel my warm thanks to H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic, Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, whom I deeply appreciate. She supports us at every step and especially on issues related to human rights and the protection of people in need.
I think that the fact that we have in our country a woman President of the Republic means a lot. I believe a lot in women. I have always believed and I fight for equal opportunities. In this area, of course, we still have a long way to go. But it is a battle worth fighting for because when women succeed, our societies ultimately succeed.
Adriana Paraskevopoulou: And this is the message that we also hold, Mrs. Vardinoyannis, that we believe in women and indeed we still have a long way to go. We want to thank you for the honour and joy we had to host you in the ERT News Bulletin.