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‘Democracy Can Work’ Urges Obama in Greece

Obama in Greece, 2023, with Mitsotakis
Barack Obama pictured during his visit to Greece with Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Credit: Kyriakos Mitsotakis / Twitter

On Thursday, during a visit to Greece, former US President Barack Obama spoke at the SNF Nostos Conference held by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. He spoke at length about various issues, including the challenges posed to democracy.

During the trip to Greece, Obama also spoke to New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who stressed the importance of shared democratic values between Greece and the US.

Earlier, the Greek media reported that the former president visited the island of Antiparos where he was hosted by the actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, an American actor and producer.

Comments at the SNF Nostos Conference

Obama welcomed attendees at the conference, stating in Greek that “it’s great to be here again.” He was joined on the stage by Andreas Drakopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) for a discussion about democracy and the new generation of leadership.

As the discussion opened, Obama spoke about the impactful Greek diaspora in the US, particularly in his hometown of Chicago. The discussion then turned to politics and the current state of democracies.

“Democracy can work if given the opportunity. Democracy is a tough form of government,” said the former president. “Because it means that you have to live side by side with someone who has different ideas from you; in some cases, with a world.”

“The spirit born in Athens inspires people around the world,” Obama continued. “People have reached the point where they don’t believe anything and that is damaging our democracy. We need to talk to those who disagree with us. This will build new societies.”

Obama’s visit to Greece

During his visit to Greece, Obama also had the opportunity to meet with Mitsotakis who, according to opinion polls, is expected to win a landslide victory in the Greek elections this coming Sunday.

On Thursday, Mitsotakis shared a picture of his meeting with the former US president on Twitter.

“A true pleasure to speak with Barack Obama in Athens,” tweeted Mitsotakis. “Our shared values, resonating perhaps a bit more here, the birthplace of democracy, were the common thread in our discussion on the very real challenges our societies and youth face. I look forward to welcoming him again soon.”

Obama also reportedly had time to meet with his friend Tom Hanks on the island of Antiparos where the latter has a home. In the past, Hanks has met with other famous figures on the Greek island, like Jeff Bezos and Anderson Cooper.

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