First ‘Cem-Papandreu International Peace Award’ ceremony held in Istanbul

First ‘Cem-Papandreu International Peace Award’ ceremony held in Istanbul

First ‘Cem-Papandreu International Peace Award’ ceremony held in Istanbul

DHA photo

The first Cem-Papandreu International Peace Award was given to businessmen Şarık Tara and Theodoros Papalexopoulos, and the Greek-Turkish Forum for being pioneers and “opening innovative ways of communication between Greece and Turkey.”

The award was established to consolidate the legacy of  Turkey’s late Foreign Minister İsmail Cem and his former counterpart Yorgo Papandreu, two statesmen who initiated the Turkish - Greek reconciliation in 1999.

“A charismatic personality, a courageous politician, an open mind,” said Papandreu of Cem, talking at the award ceremony held in Istanbul on April 16. 

Underlining that the lack of healthy relations between the two countries “undermined the true potential” of both peoples, Papandreu said he had decided with Cem to shift their focus to areas of possible cooperation rather than fighting over well-known differences. 

“I decided that there was no reason to be in the position of foreign minister if I didn’t tackle – head on – our major foreign policy issue,” he told the audience which included senior figures from Turkey’s political scene including former PM Mesut Yılmaz.

 Cem’s daughter İpek Cem Taha complimented the two statesmen efforts to build peace, underlining that “friendly relations between Turkey and Greece seem natural today,” because their work was furthered by both countries. 

Taha focused her speech on the global reach needed to solve the ongoing refugee crisis in the countries’ bordering Aegean Sea, where hundreds of thousands of migrants have perished over the summer of 2016. 

“Making the Aegean a sea of hope and peace is no longer possible solely with the efforts of Turkey and Greece,” she said, adding that a global effort was necessary to resolve conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. “It is for this reason that we need world leaders who embrace peace as an above-politics value,” she said, quoting Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who once said, “Peace in the country, peace in the world.” 

Peace is the most important priority issue in the world she said adding “See peace as a very serious issue. If we are still looking for a cause to fight; how about fighting for peace.”

Taha underlined that their aspiration in organizing this award which will be issued annually, was to support efforts towards peace by rewarding individuals and organizations who contribute to this end.