I come from a country far away from Nelson Mandela’s.
Nevertheless, a civilization that inspired the democratic ideals that he fought for and was ready to risk his life for.
But in the century that passed, it was Nelson Mandela who inspired these democratic ideals and kept them alive under the most difficult conditions.
Today, his vision and actions are more relevant than ever, as our world is experiencing existential challenges: an increase in wars and conflicts, a widening in regional inequalities, a strengthening of racism, and the emergence of religious fundamentalism.
The current state of affairs requires a Mandela-kind of leadership: A relentless fighter for independence, peace and human rights.
And – at the same time – a responsible leader and formidable diplomat, who was ready to make the compromises necessary to ensure these goals.
I think this was his power.
He was a fighter who had proved his commitment to the rights of his people, as he rose from the radical left, the anti-colonial struggle and 27 years of imprisonment.
And yet he became a statesman who transformed this anger and conviction into an unmatchable energy aimed at reconciliation, unity and peace.
“If we can learn how to hate, we can learn how to love,” Mandela said.
At a time when the political momentum is moving us rapidly backward, we must believe that we can turn things around.
Social progress and peace are not given. They are earned through struggle and compromise.
My country went through both. And now Greece is:
Exiting economic programs of austerity, while protecting the most vulnerable,
Consolidating citizenship rights to the children of migrants, reinforcing the rights of the Muslim minority, protecting the rights of the LGBT community,
Managing unprecedented refugee flows, while respecting human rights
Resolving international differences, such as the name issue with our northern neighbors, FYROM
I believe strongly that, either it is through overcoming conflicts such as in Syria or the Palestinian issue, or achieving the UN Millennium goals, or supporting African development, Nelson Mandela’s example should inspire us today, on an national and international level, to do much better.