In an interview with Vimagazino,Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, the Paris-based Greek academic and internationally respected Byzantinologist who is also a member of the “Greece 2021” Committee, discusses her roots in Asia Minor, her distinguished career and what it means to be Greek.
Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, who was the first woman to serve as principal at the University of Sorbonne, says her passionate obsession with Byzantine history has helped her to better understand our past, our present and our future, as well as geopolitical developments and border disputes between nations in the light of historical developments. She also says that many of Europe’s present day problems stem from historic policy mistakes that have made Europe cumbersome, noting that it should have first broadened common policies and integrated more, before proceeding with enlargement. “I think that if Macron manages to make a unifying move, even an effort through the economy or through military unification, we will somehow become unstuck,” she said.
She also notes that it is easier to endure tough times if one “believes in life;life is a beautiful game”. She adds that Greeks have been influenced more by Byzantium than ancient Greece, and points out that many of our traditions herald from Byzantium. “Byzantium was present for a thousand years. All our traditions stem from Byzantium,” she said
Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, who has served asprincipal at the University of Europe and president of the board at the European Cultural Center of Delphi, also explains why most Greeks would rather be compared to ancient Greeks than Byzantium. “Because ancient Greeks and their democracy is recognized throughout the universe, whileByzantium is seen as obscurantist, especially when compared to ancient Greece. There are many who believe Byzantium was all about discord, arguments and intrigue,” she said, while others argue that “global history began when the Greek spirit awoke; how can you not feel great when you say you are a descendant of those who brought wisdom and civilization to the world?”