It is an honour for me, as Minister of Culture of my country, to attend this First Athens Civilizations Forum, nothing less than in the capital of the historical Greece, with the warming greetings of the President of the Republic of Peru and our Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as the embrace of all Peruvian people.
You may know that until a few weeks ago Peru suffered terrible floods in the north of the country. In the midst of this grave situation, many Peruvians sought refuge in archaeological locations built centuries or millennia ago. It was, of course, a concrete situation, as well as desperate one. However, it is impossible not to notice the metaphorical power of the same: by fleeing from overflowing rivers, contemporary Peruvians not only sought refuge in the constructions raised by those who preceded us, but also took shelter under the wisdom of our ancient civilizations.
This metaphor leads to ask ourselves, what we do here? Why we are here? We think the answer is that we are here because we represent countries that are heirs of civilizations, which in the distant past have found answers to questions that we still face today in the world, to challenges of great contemporary relevance.
That extraordinary past that our nations have in common, is, of course, a privilege. However, it also constitutes, and we understand it, a responsibility: the duty of lead culture and civilization at the center of the current worldwide conversation.
Thus, what else do culture and civilization mean? If it is not the capacity of the human being to find a balanced coexistence between one another and between our own nature and us. In times when we are experiencing chaotic and accelerating changes, which seem to lead us blindly to a disturbing future, we are convinced that it is essential, and urgent, to turn our gaze to the wisdom that made our peoples, foundational civilizations, creators of knowledge and art, and forgeries of our own humanity.