Ioannis Georgakis

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Died in 1993.

"Human rights were the first concern to Georgakis. As Professor of Penal Law at the Pantios University of Political Science in Athens he organised international conferences concerning capital punishment and the defence of the individual against arbitrary action by the state. His range of interest extended from the construction of school buildings to the setting up of a Centre for Islamic Studies where attention was particularly paid to the importance of human values. He held prestigious public offices, was Ambassador at large and was, for a time, president of Olympic Airways. He was permanent secretary to the Onassis Foundation and in 1988 he became its president.

"The unanimous support of a concept by all political interests is a rare thing in Greece, or anywhere else for that matter. By June 1992 Georgakis had persuaded the Greek parliament to establish by law the Foundation for Hellenic Culture. Within 12 months he had set up bases in Athens, Paris, London and Odessa. In his own words:

"The universality of the Greek spirit and Greek learning can, through the cultivation of classical studies, forge a cultural solidarity, encourage communication between members of the world community and act as a support for the attainment of common goals.

"From anyone without his background of performance that might sound high-falutin' stuff. Georgakis, compact, imperturbable, benevolent, was no humbug but a practical realist who knew that civilisation had either to be actively promoted or find itself suffocated by indifference. His first act as President was to bring the foundation to the attention of Philhellenes the world over by taking a shipload of academics, actors, artists, authors, journalists and political people on a voyage to the Cyclades..." [1]

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