Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ greeting at an event of the Embassy of Greece in London on the “Seferis Office” and the “Roderick Beaton” Reading Room

Your Eminence, Ambassador, dear professor, ladies and gentlemen,

What an honour it is today to be able to participate in this beautiful event. Let me congratulate the Ambassador and, of course, let me thank the President of the Republic for thinking about creating this “anagnostirio”, this room dedicated to not just one of the most famous figures in Greek, but also in world literature, but also to a consummate diplomat. This indeed is what I find so fascinating about Seferis, the way that he was able to balance his profound intellectual curiosities with his focus on his diplomatic career.

We’re not just celebrating this year, 60 years since Giorgos Seferis received the most distinguished award that can be bestowed upon any writer or poet. We’re also celebrating, if I’m not mistaken, 20 years since Professor Beaton published his biography. Am I correct? Yeah. What he keeps referring to as, “the brick”. However, it is worth reading because exactly it explores the mind and life of this fascinating personality.

I would like to thank Professor Beaton personally for the love that he has shown towards his new country, his new home, and the fact that he has written so eloquently about modern Greek history, but also about the story of the Greeks throughout the centuries. I think he has played a critical role, especially during the past years, in terms of helping us better understand our own history and especially the history of the past 200 years, this tumultuous path moving from triumphs to catastrophes, but putting us, at the end of the day, always in a better place than where we started from.

And Giorgos Seferis was part of that journey. And I think it is only fitting that we commemorate his work, but also his life in this residence by inaugurating this very, very special room.

Finally, I was thinking what Giorgos Seferis would have said about the current geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. He was a connaisseur, of course, of the Middle East, someone who deeply cared about the Cyprus cause and someone who was very outspoken when it came to his personal opinion, something we always valued in our diplomacy. He certainly was not a “yes” man, and he had the courage of his opinion.

I just returned to some of his verses because I think that when speaking to the Israelis after this horrible tragedy of October 7th, he probably would have used these words: “Lord, help us to keep in mind the causes of this slaughter: greed, dishonesty; Lord, help us to root them out”. But I’m sure he would also have some words for the Palestinians. And he probably would have told them, expressing his own desire in pain during difficult years for his homeland. He would have told them: “To be nostalgic for your country while living in your country, nothing is more bitter”. That is why poetry, especially important poetry, remains always so relevant and his desire and his wish to “ascending words like a weathervane”. That is why he is still so relevant today.

And this is the magic of poetry and the very personal journey that we all embark when we read these amazing poems. And that is why he is still so relevant today, probably I would argue even maybe more so than he was when he produced his finest work.

So again, congratulations to the Αmbassador. Thank you all for being here. I’m sure that more people will get to know this great man. I’m excited to visit the space and looking forward to when it will be officially open. Thank you all very much for being here.