International Symposia

Symi Festival '98 In the summer of 1998, The Andreas Papandreou Foundation hosted the first Symi Symposium on the Greek island of Symi.

In keeping with its mission to become a centre of excellence for social research, policy analysis, and conflict management, the Foundation supports activities that strengthen cultural awareness, civil society and international co-operation within the European, Mediterranean and global communities. With these objectives in mind, in 1998 we established a tradition to gather every year for a Symposium, in the classical Greek sense - meaning to 'eat and drink together'.

The purpose of the Symi Symposium is to help develop an informal network of leaders sharing common concerns and specific responsibilities, with regard to the crucial issues central to the future of Europe. The original idea behind the first Symi Symposium came from a multitude of official and unofficial discussions among colleagues and friends. We noticed there was concern about the lack of direction and coordination with regard to the future of our continent, but also the new leadership challenges we face. Those of us who are in public positions rarely have the opportunity to discuss these issues in a more open and informal manner. This can lead to frustration, especially - but not only - on the 'periphery' of Europe, in areas like the Balkans. These Symposia would provide an opportunity to take a vacation from our daily concerns; a meeting of minds that would inspire creative thought and direction on the issues we feel are most important to us.

At the first, five-day, Symi Symposium in August 1998, 27 politicians, diplomats and economists from 20 European countries and the U.S. exchanged views on a wide range of topics related to the current and future challenges facing Europe. Regional European issues, the Monetary Union, transatlantic relations, sub-regional cooperation, and globalisation are some of the issues that were debated. During their stay in Symi, participants also had the opportunity to experience everyday life in an island in the outskirts of European Union.

Symi Festival 1999We wanted these gatherings to be meaningful and productive experiences for all of us. We hope we succeeded in this mission. Certainly, we were in good company - a gathering of people from a wealth of nations with ideas and knowledge to share; people whose views offered a fresh outlook and gave us food for thought; people whose informed opinions provoked interesting and lively discussions about the issues at hand. The idea was to invite mainly individuals who were making an active contribution, as politicians and practitioners, to the shaping of Europe, as well as a number of academics and intellectuals who could assist us in our debates.

Perhaps equally importantly, our Symposia provide an invaluable opportunity for us to spend time with our families, as participants are invited to bring their families with them. And since no stay in Greece is complete without ample time to discover the sea, the countryside, the people, food and wine, we made sure to include plenty of recreational opportunities too.

Symi Festival 2000Encouraged by the excellent results of the first Symi Symposium, and eager to relive the experience, in 1999 the Andreas Papandreou Foundation held the second Symi Symposium on Corfu. In Corfu, we focused, inevitably, on the dramatic events in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, and their wider repercussions on aspirations for a more peaceful and democratic Europe. Last year, in Spetses, building on the conclusions of Symi and Corfu, we tried to sketch out a more global vision for democratic governance in Europe, a continent that is coming together on an unprecedented scale.

Now in its fourth year, it would be fair to say that we have established something of a tradition. A tradition we call the Symi Symposium. Busy as we all tend to be, these symposia create the perfect setting for intense but informal discussions, in relaxed and beautiful surroundings. They encourage new friendships to develop and an international network to grow. And they give us an opportunity to reflect in a manner that few of us unfortunately have the time to do in our professional lives.

More info:
12th Annual Symi Symposium 2009
11th Annual Symi Symposium 2008
10th Annual Symi Symposium 2007
9th Annual Symi Symposium 2006
8th Annual Symi Symposium 2005
7th Annual Symi Symposium 2004
6th Annual Symi Symposium 2003
5th Annual Symi Symposium 2002
4th Annual Symi Symposium 2001
3rd Annual Symi Symposium 2000
2nd Annual Symi Symposium 1999
1st Annual Symi Symposium 1998
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