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Issue 11, January 2009
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International Onassis Prizes
in Law and Letters
Snapshot from the annual opening ceremony of the five Academies in the French Institute’s dome chamber

Abiding always by the terms Aristotle Onassis set forth in his will, the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation announced the establishment of two new international prizes, one in the field of law and one in the field of letters, at the French Institute (Institut de France).

 
Top:  From the left, François Terre, Gabriel de Broglie and Anthony Papadimitriou<br />
Bottom: The Greek Ambassador in France, Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos, Jacques Zouanna and Yiannis Ioannidis
Top: From the left, François Terre, Gabriel de Broglie and Anthony Papadimitriou
Bottom: The Greek Ambassador in France, Dimitrios Paraskevopoulos, Jacques Zouanna and Yiannis Ioannidis
The official announcement for the establishment of the two new prizes took place on the premises of the French Institute in Paris on October 28, 2008, on the occasion of the annual opening of the five French Academies, and in the presence of French government representatives, including Education Minister Mr. Xavier Darcos, representatives of the country’s cultural life and members of the press.

The Prize in Law (Prix Onassis pour le Droit) is established with the cooperation of the Academy of Ethics and Political Sciences (Académie des Sciences morales et politiques) and will be bestowed to distinguished personalities whose scientific and intellectual work has contributed to improving collaboration between states, increasing respect for human rights and leveling cultural contradiction.

The Onassis Prize in Letters (Prix Onassis pour les Belles-lettres) is established in collaboration with the French Academy and the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres (Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres) and will be bestowed to personalities who have concentrated their work and studies on Greek culture and, thus, promote our cultural heritage in the fields of Archaeology, History and Literature.

From the left, Gabriel de Broglie, Jean François Jarrige and Anthony Papadimitriou during the press conference
From the left, Gabriel de Broglie, Jean François Jarrige and Anthony Papadimitriou during the press conference

The International Onassis Prizes in Law and Letters will be awarded biannually in rotation. Each prize will be accompanied by a 250,000€ award. The announcement for the introduction of the new prizes was made at a press conference in Paris by Anthony Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, and representatives of the French Institute: Chancellor Gabriel de Broglie; Mrs. Hélène Carrère d’Encausse representing the French Academy; Mr. Jean-François Jarrige, President of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres; François Terre, President of the Academy of Ethics and Political Sciences; in the presence of Mr. Jean-Leclant, Permanent Secretary of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres; and Mr. Michel Albert, Permanent Secretary of the Academy of Ethics and Political Sciences.

Top: Jacqueline de Romilly during her speech in the opening ceremony for the five Academies<br />
Bottom: Edith Canat de Chizy, member of the Academy of Fine Arts
Top: Jacqueline de Romilly during her speech in the opening ceremony for the five Academies
Bottom: Edith Canat de Chizy, member of the Academy of Fine Arts

The selection committee for the Prize in Law will be composed by Anthony Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation, Gabriel de Broglie and Sir Basil Markesinis, member of the Board of the Onassis Foundation. Additionally, the committee will include five members of the Academy of Ethics and Political Sciences ―Roland Drago, Gilbert Guillaume, Pierre Mazau and François Terre―, as well as two personalities of international stature selected by the President of the Onassis Foundation and the Institute’s Chancellor, following relevant suggestion of the Academy: Professor Mads Andenas (of the University of Leicester, Oxford and Oslo) and Professor Joerg Fedtke (of University College London).

The selection committee for the Prize in Letters is composed by Anthony Papadimitriou, Gabriel de Broglie, Sir Basil Markesinis, members of the Institute chosen by the Permanent Secretary of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres ―Jean Leclant, Jacques Jouanna, Juliette de la Genière and André Laronde―, members of the French Academy  - Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, Misel Déon and Jean d’Ormesson - , as well as four personalities of international stature selected by the President of the Onassis Foundation and the Institute’s Chancellor following relevant recommendation of the French Academy and the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres  -  Xavier Darcos, member of the Institute and Minister of Education in France; Vasilis Lamprinoudakis, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology in the University of Athens and Chairman of the International Institute for Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (L.I.M.C.); Richard Buxton, Professor of Greek Language and Literature at Bristol University and Chairman of the Institute for L.I.M.C.; and Tonio Hölscher, Professor in the Institute for Classical Archaeology at the University of Heidelberg.

Top:  Chancellor De Broglie, first from the right, amongst the “Immortals” of the five Academies<br />
Bottom: Snapshot from the press conference in the Salon Bonnefous. In the first row at the center, the French Minister of Education Xavier Darcos
Top: Chancellor De Broglie, first from the right, amongst the “Immortals” of the five Academies
Bottom: Snapshot from the press conference in the Salon Bonnefous. In the first row at the center, the French Minister of Education Xavier Darcos

Anthony Papadimitriou stated in his speech that “The establishment of the Onassis Prize in Law stems from the conviction that the Law, as a link between societies and states, constitutes in the modern world a significant means of promoting trade, finance, investments, transport, environment preservation and human rights, but its main function is to improve the relationship and enhance understanding between people. The initiative for establishing a second Onassis Prize arose from our confidence that the ideals and the knowledge governing the cultural heritage of mankind have been founded upon the Greek civilisation. In this modern world, which gives way to globalization, it is also important to redefine our points of reference. This translates, mainly for the younger generations, in the need to rediscover the traces of our common past. This road will inevitably lead us to the Mediterranean basin, where the Greek civilisation has preserved its glow over the centuries. Our support to the fields of Archaeology, History, Literature and the Letters can also be viewed as a course opposing the modern trend of elevating positive sciences at the expense of humanities. In order to be able to find once again a viable balance in a constantly changing world, it is not just necessary but imperative to support the work of those who are trying to rescue the wealth of our common heritage by means of classification, analysis and interpretation, and of those who wish to enrich global heritage with their own innovative and creative contribution.”

The first Onassis Prizes are scheduled to be bestowed before the end of 2009 at an official ceremony at the French Institute in Paris.

Photos: Brigitte EYMANN

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