Former US president Barack Obama took to the stage of the Greek National Opera’s ‘Stavros Niarchos Hall’ in central Athens on Thursday for a conversation with Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos.
Barack Obama is participating in the SNF Nostos Conference 2023 (June 21-23) held at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), and this year it is dedicated to mental health.
He began his speech shortly before 17:30 alongside Dracopoulos, with whom he discussed strengthening democratic culture, and the significance of investing in the next generation of leaders.
The 44th US president was introduced by Sophia Kouvelaki, the Founder and CEO of ‘The Home Project’, a nonprofit that provides child protection services to unaccompanied refugee children in Greece. Kouvelaki was one of the participants in the “Obama Foundation Leaders: Europe program”.
The event was attended by New Democracy leader and former prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras, former president of Greece Prokopios Pavlopoulos, former prime minister Antonis Samaras, and US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, among others.
Researchers, practitioners and activists from a wide range of fields are coming together for the 2023 SNF Nostos Conference to discuss the progress of the ‘Child & Adolescent Mental Health Initiative’ and tackle topics such as loneliness and its effects on mental health, the role of arts, Artificial Intelligence and technology overall.
This marks Obama’s second appearance at the SNFCC. He has spoken again at SNF in 2016, during his last international trip while in office.
Democracy can work out if given a chance, Obama said in the converstation. But it is also a tough form of government rule, because you must live next to someone with different ideas than you, and occasionally a completely opposite way of seeing the world.
What is particularly dangerous, he noted, is the extreme-right populist parties in Europe and the United States give the impression that they will do anything to win elections and will tear down norms, obstacles, and manipulate voting rules.
Obama also spoke of the rise in inequalities, particularly by the use of new technologies, which widened the gap.