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Seeking a ‘glocal’ community

At the beginning of his term as mayor for Athens, Greece in 1995, Dimitris Avramopoulos fought to bring the 2004 Olympics to the city and succeeded. Next he had to worry about rebuilding the city to accommodate worldwide visitors for the event.

Avramopoulos spoke at the Library on Wednesday night about his eight-year term as mayor of Athens during which he helped rebuild an airport, remodeled buildings and reduced congestion in the city by constructing new streets.

“In 2004, (Athens) will be a totally new city,” Avramopoulos said. “It will be an attraction for tourists and investors.”

The former mayor, who has been a politician for three decades, said Athens will be in “the public eye” and that it is now “one of the ultimate European destinations.”

Avramopoulos served as mayor from 1995 to 2002. In the 1998 mayoral election, he won by a landslide. Avramopoulos also spoke about his optimistic views on globalization and urbanization.

He said citizens in every democratic country should play an active role in their local governments, which would have a global impact.

He introduced the term “glocal,” which combines the words ‘global’ and ‘local’ and said it will soon be a regular term in a person’s vocabulary.

“Act locally, but think globally,” Avramopoulos said. “One day this world (could be) nationally united.”

Avramopoulos is currently a visiting fellow of the Institute of Politics from John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard University. He holds the honorary citizenship of 35 Greek and foreign cities.

Avramopoulos added that rich and poor countries should find some common ground because “peace can be built from the bottom.”

With regard to the war in Iraq, Avramopoulos said it is “our duty to support the Iraqi citizens morally.” He said they “will have a better tomorrow.”

“Democracy is up to the people (and the citizens) should fight for it,” Avramopoulos said.