‘It’s our duty’

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Eurobank EFG have put the commitment they made last August into practice by implementing a programme entitled in Greek “Ine kathikon mas” (meaning “It’s our duty”). This is an extensive national programme whose purpose is to restore those areas of Greece that where afflicted by last summer’s forest fires, the overall budget for which amounts to EUR 60 million. A detailed description of the actions entailed in the Project is available on the newly-created Web site: www.inekathikonmas.gr or on the sites of both the Foundation and the Bank.

The Prefecture of Ileia as a whole and Ancient Olympia in particular, owing to the extensive damage they suffered, are the focal point of many of the initiatives included in this programme. The project gives priority to financing the re-planting of the archaeological site as a whole, as well as the broader area surrounding the New Museum, the Stadium and the forest area around the International Olympic Academy. It was for this initiative that the Minister of Culture, H.E. Mr. Michalis Liapis, conferred the designation of Great Benefactor on the Latsis Foundation and Εurobank EFG at a special ceremony in Ancient Olympia on March 24, 2008.

President of the Foundation Mrs. Henrietta Latsis, who accepted the award, stated: “We deserve no awards or commendations when we are simply doing our duty to our land, the place where we were born and grew up and which we love. My children and I have done what we thought my husband John Latsis would have done.” Ms. Paula Hatzisotiriou, President of the Project Management Committee that Eurobank EFG set up to assist the fire-stricken regions, accepted the award on behalf of Eurobank EFG.

Prior to this, H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Karolos Papoulias inaugurated the new Town Hall of Olympia and was declared an honorary citizen of Ancient Olympia. At the same ceremony, which was also attended by Mrs. Henrietta Latsis, the municipal council chamber in the new Town Hall was given the name “John Latsis”, as a token of the municipal authority’s gratitude to the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation which donated all the equipment for the new town hall, as well as a fleet of vehicles to improve municipal services.

In his address, Mr. Vangelis Chronis, General Manager of the Latsis Group and member of the Executive Board of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, referred in particular to the actions included in the project for Ancient Olympia and the Prefecture of Ileia: a) upgrading the fireprotection systems for the Archaeological Museum and the adjoining areas, b) reinforcing the Olympic ideals and culture through a special postgraduate programme established on the initiative of the International Olympic Academy in conjunction with the University of the Peloponnese, c) financial assistance to all students from the fire-stricken regions of Ileia and d) joint philanthropic programmes with the Bishopric of Ileia.

Mr. Chronis also announced that the Museum and archeological site of Ancient Olympia would be the subject of the next book in the «The Museums Cycle» series, an annual publication supervised and financed jointly by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Εurobank. The subject had been chosen before the disaster, but the value and symbolism of this book, which will be presented in December, will be highlighted in the most emblematic manner given the current circumstances.

Concluding his brief remarks, Mr. Chronis outlined the main actions of the “It’s our duty” programme jointly implemented by the John S Latsis Foundation and Eurobank. They include the following initiatives that have been taken to date:

  • Initiatives for relief of the victims. These include: writing off loan debts for fire victims who have lost substantial assets; a programme to support businesses active in fire-stricken areas; financial aid to students; and establishment of a Firefighters’ Solidarity Fund. More than 7,500 families and businesses in the nine fire-stricken prefectures have so far benefited from these actions.
  • Initiatives to restore the areas affected by fire. These include: financing the national Survey for the Restoration of Prefectures affected by the fires; funding the integrated WWF Hellas Programme for Forest Protection and the Programme of Support for municipalities affected by the fires.
  • Initiatives to reinforce prevention mechanisms. These include: support for the Fire Department and the General Secretariat for Civil Defence; supplying equipment to volunteer organisations; and co-operating with WWF Hellas to strengthen volunteer environmental agencies.

This Project expresses the shared intention of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Εurobank EFG to take an active part in this nationwide rallying of forces to assist the people and areas affected by the fires. It is also an integral part of the broader policy of contributing to the community that is implemented by both the Foundation and the Bank with consistency and a sense of responsibility, carrying on the legacy of social sensitivity, solidarity and spirit of contribution left by their founder, John S. Latsis.

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