CIA’s former Director George Tenet and Archbishop Demetrios of America present Athenagoras Human Rights Award to the last President of the Soviet Union
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev was honored with the Athenagoras Human Rights Award, by the Order of St Andrew of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Award was presented to Chairman Gorbachev, by Archbishop Demetrios of America and Commander of the Order Dr. Anthony Limberakis, on Saturday, October 22, at the annual banquet of the Archons Order of St. Andrew.
Greek American former Director of the CIA George Tenet, served as Master of Ceremonies of the banquet.
Established in 1986, the Athenagoras Award honors Patriarch Athenagoras who served as Archbishop of the Americas for 18 years before being elected Ecumenical Patriarch in 1948. Previous recipients of the award include Archbishop Iakovos, President Jimmy Carter, President George H.W. Bush, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa and Elie Wiesel.
Present at the ceremony were hundreds of archons from around the country, the ambassadors of Greece, Cyprus and Russian Federation to the US, as well as President Bush’s Homeland Security advisor, Francis Frangos – Townsend, a Greek American.
Introducing the last president of the Soviet Union, George Tenet asked him if he could ever imagine, a former president of the Soviet Union to be honored by a former director of the CIA.
“The President has a file on me and I have a file on him”, said to the enjoyment of the audience.
Tenet praised Gorbachev’s leadership, character, humanity and character.
“He faced the challenges squarely. He showed courage and leadership, promoting reforms that gave freedom and opportunities to his people. He worked for the future, not only of his people, but of all humanity”.
Receiving the Athenagoras Award, Mikhail Gorbachev said his perestroika opened the way for all Soviet people, for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
“There is no return for the previous regime”, he said, describing the end of Cold War as a victory for the world.
Gorbachev called for the need the human race to face crucial challenges as famine, maladies and the destruction of the environment and promote the goals of the Millennium.
“We need a new though for the new century. In our times world leadership should be a collective matter and only one country cannot lead by itself”.
Although he recognized the responsibilities of the United States, as the world’s greatest democracy, he stressed that our world cannot afford the imposition of values and views.
Archon Limberakis praised Gorbachev for “choosing peace over confrontation, despite the fact that he commanded the world’s largest army and a vast armamentarium of nuclear weapons”.
Because of Gorbachev’s leadership, he said, in today’s Russia the Orthodox Church is thriving.
Dr Limberakis criticized sharply Turkey’s numerous violations of the religious freedoms, human rights and property rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
“The Government of Turkey, Limberakis said, does not recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a bona fide legal entity. It confiscates its properties. Properties that once numbered in excess of 8,000 in 1936, have reduced to fewer than 500, due to the systematic, inexorable and ruthless seizures by the government of Turkey. Even the Patriarchal orphanage was expropriated this past year, a year that Turkey looks to the West, as it approaches accession to the European Union. Yet, as it seeks partnership with Europe, it will not allow a European or any non-Turkish citizen to serve as Ecumenical Patriarch”.
In a ceremony in front of the audience, Archbishop Demetrios on behalf of Patriarch Bartholomew invested Gorbachev as Archon Great Orator of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.