‘The city of Thessaloniki takes centre stage
in highlighting the modern European Union ideal’
On 16 February 2019, the Theophano Foundation launched its activities, from the city of Thessaloniki, with the initiative of an annual award, the Empress Theophano prize, to recognize personalities that promote a modern European identity and highlight common European principles and values.
The Prize will be awarded every year by Theophano Foundation, as a distinction, following a process of assessment of the candidates by the Advisory and Governing Councils of the Foundation. The Award Ceremony will be taking place in Thessaloniki, at the Rotunda Monument, a site symbolizing and bearing witness to the Roman, Byzantine, Christian Orthodox, Ottoman and Greek influence in the shaping of Europe. The Award Ceremony will be held each year on the first Saturday after the 1st of November.
The Chairman of the Advisory Council is be the President Emeritus of the European Council, Mr. Herman Count Van Rompuy.
The Governing Coouncil of the Foundation will receive the candidates nominated by the Advisory Council and select the person to be awarded the Empress Theophano prize. The Chairman of the Governing Council is Mr. Stavros Andreadis, President of the Cultural Society of Entrepreneurs of Northern Greece.
In the packed Meeting Hall of Thessaloniki Municipal Building, the first official announcement of Empress Theophano prize was hailed by the Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, Mr. Apostolos Tzitzikostas, and the Mayor of Thessalonki, Mr. Yiannis Boutaris, who stressed the significance of the new award for the promotion of both the historic and the contemporary identity of the city and its broader region.
Thessaloniki was consciously chosen, as confirmed by the Chairman of the Advisory Council, Mr. Herman Count Van Rompuy, who characteristically commented: “The choice of prize name and location are full of symbols”; he also made extensive reference to the bridging role of Empress Theophano between the East and the West, the importance of bringing the Greek civilization to the West Roman Empire of the 10th century and the symbolism of this woman’s position in society. He went on to say that “more than ever before, our times need bridges, overcoming contradictions and polarisation”. In stressing that the foundation of the European Union ideal lies in the values of humanity, peace and unity, Mr Herman Count Van Rompuy commented on fragmentation and the role a historical approach can play in the course states follow: “Greatness is to look beyond one’s narrow economic interests and beyond the time when he or she happens to be politically active. The Union must be and remain a Union”. Finally, praising the wide scope of the members of the Advisory Committee, who come from the realms of politics, business, academia and culture, he underlined the values symbolized by the Empress Theophano prize: European cooperation, the importance of education and culture, gender equality.
The Chairman of the Governing Council, Mr. Stavros Andreadis, referred to the aspiration of the Prize to acquire the pan-European prestige and status of the Charlemagne Prize, which has been awarded since 1950 in Aachen, Germany. Discussing the aim of the prize, he stressed that: “at a time when the European Union idea is being tested, the Empress Theophano prize aims at serving as a bridge of mutual understanding between the diverse peoples and cultural features that, combined, make up contemporary Europe”; Mr. Andreadis also stressed the pivotal role of Thessaloniki and Greece for European civilization and the modern European ideal. He thanked professor Stefan Schepers, chairman of EPPA, for having brought this idea to Thessaloniki.