ATHENS, APRIL 24 – The Ancient Civilizations Forum held its inaugural session in Athens on Monday, attended by foreign ministers or senior diplomats from China, India, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, Bolivia and Peru. The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Angelino Alfano, who was supposed to attend the opening of the meeting, was held back in Italy to welcome Italian journalist Gabriele Del Grande after 14 days in Turkish prisons. Del Grande, who was in Turkey researching a book about the war in Syria and the birth of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), arrived in Bologna, Italy, on April 24.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told attendees at the Athens meeting that their cultures share a heritage of “positive power, the strength of knowledge, education (and) progress.” He voiced hopes that the 10 countries could benefit from cooperation in areas ranging from the economy to culture.
The new forum is defined by history, rather than geography or clout, with each of its members having been a top global player at some — often distant — point in the past 4,000 years. Monday’s conference is taking place upon the initiative of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi and marked the forum’s official launch. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is also attending.
The forum’s main objective is to bring together representatives of countries, which – although in various geographical regions – are considered “cradles of ancient cultures”, a Foreign Ministry announcement said.
Through a broad agenda of joint actions, the forum aims to “transform” culture into a source of power and a fundamental tool for introducing a contemporary, multifaceted foreign policy. The forum will also highlight the economic prospects of cultural synergies among nations. (@OnuItalia)