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European Commission

Androulla VASSILIOU

Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

Fighting for hope in a united Europe of culture and solidarity

Opening of 'Cyprus Unplugged' Palais des Beaux Arts (Bozar) /Brussels

9 November 2013

Dear friends,

Fellow Cypriots,

I would like to welcome you to a very special evening of music and poetry.

Tonight's event is dedicated to people. To people in Cyprus, in Greece, in Spain and in Portugal. To people across Europe, to people across the globe. To people who, as the poet Costas Montis writes, keep hope alive for the future and are willing to fight for it.

Tonight's beautiful gathering might be called philanthropy. Others might call it charity, or solidarity, or perhaps even culture. But do any of these things exist in isolation? Can there be charity without solidarity? Can there be culture without solidarity? Can there be solidarity without a sense of what we share culturally?

This event is ultimately dedicated to understanding... the understanding that as ordinary people, many more things unite us than divide us. The understanding that problems cannot become the exclusive burden of only some of us. The understanding that the future does not belong to a privileged few. The understanding that if we want a truly united Europe of free nations, a Europe united in diversity, then ordinary people should be at the forefront.

This is the message you are all sending with your presence tonight.

The same solidarity has been shown by Anna Vissi, Konstantinos Christoforou and Despina Olympiou, whom I thank from the bottom of my heart. The event would not have been as radiant without them. I would like to thank our many sponsors, including those who have given support behind the scenes. Thanks also to the friends who will shortly recite the work of Cypriot poets, old and new. The poems are in the Cypriot dialect or in Modern Greek, and they are timely and thought-provoking. Last but not least, I thank the dozens of volunteers who are still working as we speak to make tonight a memorable occasion.

The concert's net proceeds will go to three organisations in Cyprus: the Alkionides Charity Association, the Social Welfare Services' girls' hostels in Nicosia, and the Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family. All three of these institutions work primarily with young people who have experienced marginalization and despair in their daily lives. This suffering cannot be normal. This cannot be the future of our society. Today, more than ever, we need the enthusiasm of our young people, we need their positive energy and their natural ability to challenge, to subvert and to lead.

Dear friends,

Tonight's concert is the result of a commitment we made together a few months ago when we saw what was happening in Cyprus. A commitment that we should arrange such a gathering for Cyprus, but also for every other Cyprus. This promise must continue. We must bring it into our daily lives, into our work and our play.

So writes Costas Montis in his poem "The moon responds":

"I agree that I reflect a foreign light
but I transformed it,
I worked on it,
I crafted it,
I turned it into lace and silver and poetry.
That is what counts".

I wish you a most enjoyable evening.


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