Interview by Lili Panagoulia

Kyriakos Maridakis, descendant of World War II Hero, Georgiou Maridakis, founder and vice-president of the Salamis International Foundation, and Founding President of the Hellenic-Israeli Association. A man who has contributed a lot to the cultural diplomacy of Greece.

He managed to turn a war event like the Battle of Salamis into a World Peace Day, internationalizing the anniversary of this great victory in 52 embassies. Heads of state such as Albert II of Monaco, the president of Israel Reuven Rivlin as well as the president of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as international organizations commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Salamis every year.

His persitant, selfless and philanthropic actions and initiatives in the cultural events of our country as well as internationally are supported by the Greek Government and are recognized at a global level, as he has been honored with awards not a few times for his voluntary contribution to the effort to highlight and promotion of our Greek Cultural Heritage such as from the World Center of Hellenism, groups of the international Rotary, the Hellenic American Organization AHEPA (Icarus) and knight of the order of the international Diplomatic Club of Switzerland “St.Gabriel”.

Issue 3 – Summer 2022

Tell us a little about the worldwide recognition and representation of the International Salamis Foundation that you have established as a member of the International Honorary Deanery “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020” and how this can help Historic Salamis.

KM: International Foundation (NGO) was created by my family mainly for the hundreds of volunteers of the Foundation who willingly and unselfishly give their valuable personal time, but also for the international executives, supreme judges, diplomats, politicians, internationalists, historians, archaeologists from the USA, the United Kingdom, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, contributing with their experience and knowledge to the promotion of historic Salamis. It is already known to the general public that with the failed Government we kindly cooperated for the good of Salamis with the realization of the first inter- ministerial committee and the holding of the World Anniversary at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier with the participation of dozens of embassies in the presence of the political and military leadership to all the dead regardless of color Race religion nationality and Social class a world day of Freedom, Democracy, Peace and solidarity. Because for us it is self-evident that Salamis is above all parties and ideological nuances, as an eternal unique world symbol of Freedom, Democracy and Culture. This is why we continue to cooperate with the current Government as well as with any constitutional government that arises in the future, with all the co- competent ministries and Mrs. Marianna Vardinogianni, who was explicitly and unequivocally mentioned during the official opening of the International Honorary Deanery “Thermopylas Salamina 2020” in our valuable cooperation on both sides at Zappeio Megaro, in the presence of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and our Honorable Acting Mayor. We are always at the disposal of the State based on our scientific and technocratic experience. In accordance with the current legislation, knowing that our role is purely advisory, as an international reservoir of thoughts of distinguished personalities who are respected, fully respecting the institutional role of the coordinated State and the Determinative and exclusive responsibilities of the Local Government concerning our priceless Island of Salamina. All this unselfishly without any financial gain at all, without seeking positions, titles, positions, continuing our more than forty-year-old activity, always guided by the contribution to the history and culture of our birthplace. The results are evident after the worldwide recognition of the anniversary of the Naval Battle in 53 embassies and Heads of State, strengthening Greek cultural diplomacy. The promotion of our island at international tourist exhibitions such as Tel Aviv, resulting in certification by the largest Israeli tourist agency as well as all the states that participate every year in the event of Salamis, strengthening our tourist product.

How do you dream of Salamina in the future?

KM: I believe in principle that first of all a strategic development plan needs to be created with a vision and decisive real interventions by the Greek State regarding the protection, promotion and utilization of the Historical, religious, cultural and naturalistic wealth of our island on a national and global level level with a direct effect on the local and national economy. Salamina can claim the position it deserves, assuming there is a coordinated initiative by all agencies so that our island becomes a global attraction for thousands of visitors by creating development tourism projects that we have proposed such as the reception of transit cruise ships of a luxurious marina. Also establishment of a Naval Thematic Park of Naumachia, unification of all the archaeological and historical sites of Naumachia and their inclusion in the world monuments of UNESCO.

What is your relationship with Mrs. Marianna Vardinogianni who comes from our area (Hermionida)?

KM: From a young age, Mrs. Marianna Vardinogianni was and is my role model. Beyond our loving collaboration in the creation of the Honorary Deanery file for the 2500 years we celebrated for Thermopylae and for Salamis, I never stop admiring her for the cultural beauty. Her social and humanitarian work showing an unprecedented simplicity and humility, promoting our country internationally. When in 2011 we humbly and discreetly organized the top event of 2500 years I will never forget her emotion when I told her from Dubai that the souls of the Salaminoms chose her to represent them after the global recognition of 53 countries organizing since 2011 a global memorial service for all the dead regardless of color, race, religion, ethnicity and social class. Mrs. Vardinogiannis is the person who inspires all of us, especially those of us who are selflessly fighting for a better tomorrow, for a Greece worthy of its cultural heritage. She is the person I have in my heart and I will always be grateful for her trust and support of my efforts. I wish that the All-Good God will give health to both her and the worthy eupatride Mr. Vardis Vardinogiannis to continue her many years of selfless service.

Can you tell us a little about your experience in Dubai where you held a great position?

KM: After 25 years of working in the United States as well as in Europe I have accepted the greatest and highest honor from the Royal administration to take over the largest government yacht as the General Manager and in charge of management on behalf of the Royal Family of the Prime Minister and Monarch of Dubai Vice President of the government of the United Arab Emirates as well as foreign heads of state. It was the first time in my life that I signed a contract with a clause and commitments in a position where I had to be on call 24 hours a day and manage classified reports and classified travel. It was a very special experience, a life experience without a personal life dedicated to my work! always receiving Congratulations from both the Royal family and foreign heads of state whom I managed. I will always remember my conversations with several members of the Royal family as well as the palace managers where they praised my crew, my skills, and even my self-taught piano playing music. I remember an incident when I asked for an extra permission beyond the normal one to travel to Lesbos for personal reasons and to receive from the royal administration an unprecedented support of my request and to be expected as I was told, to return soon and safe, Indeed, it was an amazing and unique life experience.

How can the promotion of Greece in the west and the east be combined so that it has a more desirable effect?

KM: What is needed is to design from the beginning a new strategic communication policy where over time in cooperation with agencies and the co- competent ministries, where every year you promote a specific historical event or monument of our country. With then targeted advertising international presentations, attracting at the same time, an even greater number of tourists motivated to watch and participate in unique cultural, sports, etc. events.

Since you have been in contact with great personalities abroad such as Prince Albert of Monaco, the King of Dubai, heads of state, etc. we would like you to tell us what the image of Greece is abroad.

KM: For Greece I always receive a universal acceptance and appreciation for History, culture, gastronomy and the unique Greek hospitality. Prince Albert welcomed me speaking Greek when I visited him at the Palace and the Royal family of Dubai welcoming me stands out among hundreds of other candidates from other countries.

Describe to us your personal life and a 24-hour day when you don’t have a very busy schedule…

KM: Because I’m a workaholic and I deal with a lot of things in general, the truth is that I can hardly describe a twenty- four hour without having a busy schedule, nevertheless when I can be free, I visit a church to pray, I read, I attend several online sessions about human relations I keep up to date with all geopolitical and geostrategic events worldwide, I communicate as I do every day with my daughters in Germany. I also really like watching movies at the cinema or at home, cooking listening to Jazz in 90s music and going out to eat with friends.

It is widely known that you are an internationally recognized personality both professionally and personally, receiving the highest honors, yet you lead a humble life without any arrogance, receiving even greater love and acceptance from the Greek society. What really inspires you in life and what is your biggest vision?

KM: First of all, I believe that giving is important in our lives, to give without expecting anything, I believe this is the meaning and essence of our existence, believing that this way we can become better people. Since I was a small child, I have always been inspired by Greek History and especially the naval battle of Salamis where its outcome saved Western and global civilization as well as the principles and values we inherited from our heroes for a free world. My vision is that the event of the naval battle of Salamis is celebrated worldwide as a day of ideals and values and that Salamis is a global cradle of the spirit.

How could someone contact you who would like to make some suggestions or give you some ideas for promoting the country abroad?

KM: Everyone who knows me knows that I am always open and willing to communicate with me through my official social media pages, while I always make it clear that in order to promote our country abroad you need us to always be united by placing our Greece on the highest pedestal of History and Culture.

Από ermag

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