President Obama Delivers Remarks at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

President Obama Delivers Remarks at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center


President Obama:
Thank you so much. (applause) Thank you. Thank you very much. Please, please have a seat. Thank you. (applause) Audience Member: Chicago! President Obama: Chicago — (laughter) Hello, Greece! (applause) Yia sas! Kalispera! To the government and
the people of Greece — including Prime Minister
Tsipras, who I thank for his partnership and for being
here, along with so many young people, the future of
Greece — I want to thank you for your warm and
generous welcome. As many of you know, this is
my final trip overseas as President of the United
States, and I was determined, on my last trip,
to come to Greece — partly because I’ve heard about the
legendary hospitality of the Greek people —
your philoxenia. (applause) Partly because I had to
see the Acropolis and the Parthenon. But also because I came here
with gratitude for all that Greece — “this small, great
world” — has given to humanity through the ages. Our hearts have been
moved by the tragedies of Aeschylus and Euripides. Our minds have been opened
by the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides. Our understanding of the
world and our place in it has been expanded by
Socrates and Aristotle. In the United States, we’re
especially grateful for the friendship of so many
proud Greek Americans. In my hometown of Chicago — (applause) — you can find them in
Greektown, with their foustanellas. (laughter) And together, we’ve
celebrated Greek Independence Day
at the White House. We’ve had some spanakopita
and some ouzo. (laughter) Greek Americans have worn
the uniform to keep our country free. Greek Americans have marched
with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to make us more just. Greek or American, we’re
all cheering for Giannis Antetokounmpo — (applause) — who seems to be getting better each year. And if anyone seeks an
example of our shared spirit, our resilience, they
need look no further than New York City, near Ground
Zero, where the Greek Orthodox church of St.
Nicholas, once in ruins, is now rising again. Most of all, we’re indebted
to Greece for the most precious of gifts — the
truth, the understanding that as individuals of free
will, we have the right and the capacity to
govern ourselves. (applause) For it was here, 25
centuries ago, in the rocky hills of this city,
that a new idea emerged. Demokratia. (applause) Kratos — the power, the
right to rule — comes from demos — the people. The notion that we are
citizens — not servants, but stewards of our society. The concept of citizenship
— that we have both rights and responsibilities. The belief in equality
before the law — not just for a few, but for the many;
not just for the majority, but also the minority. These are all concepts that
grew out of this rocky soil. Of course, the earliest
forms of democracy here in Athens were far from perfect
— just as the early forms of democracy in the United
States were far from perfect. The rights of ancient Athens
were not extended to women or to slaves. But Pericles explained, “our
constitution favors the many instead of the few…this
is why it is called a democracy.” Athenians also knew that,
however noble, ideas alone were not enough. To have meaning, principles
must be enshrined in laws and protected by
institutions, and advanced through civic participation. And so they gathered in a
great assembly to debate and decide affairs of state,
each citizen with the right to speak, casting their vote
with a show of hands, or choosing a pebble — white
for yes, black for no. Laws were etched in stone
for all to see and abide by. Courts, with citizen jurors,
upheld that rule of law. Politicians weren’t always
happy because sometimes the stones could be used to
ostracize, banish those who did not behave themselves. But across the millennia
that followed, different views of power and
governance have often prevailed. Throughout human history,
there have been those who argue that people cannot
handle democracy, that they cannot handle
self-determination, they need to be told what to do. A ruler has to maintain
order through violence or coercion or an iron fist. There’s been a different
concept of government that says might makes right, or
that unchecked power can be passed through bloodlines. There’s been the belief that
some are superior by virtue of race or faith or
ethnicity, and those beliefs so often have been used
to justify conquest and exploitation and war. But through all this
history, the flame first lit here in Athens never died. It was ultimately nurtured
by a great Enlightenment. It was fanned by America’s
founders, who declared that “We, the People” shall rule;
that all men are created equal and endowed by our
Creator with certain inalienable rights. Now, at times, even today,
those ideals are challenged. We’ve been told that
these are Western ideals. We’ve been told that some
cultures are not equipped for democratic governance
and actually prefer authoritarian rule. And I will say that after
eight years of being President of the United
States, having traveled around the globe, it is
absolutely true that every country travels its own
path, every country has its own traditions. But what I also believe,
after eight years, is that the basic longing to
live with dignity, the fundamental desire to have
control of our lives and our future, and to want to be
a part of determining the course of our communities
and our nations — these yearnings are universal. They burn in
every human heart. It’s why a Greek bishop atop
a mountain raised the flag of independence. It’s why peoples from the
Americas to Africa to Asia threw off the yoke
of colonialism. It’s why people behind an
Iron Curtain marched in Solidarity, and tore down
that wall, and joined you in a great union
of democracies. It’s why, today, we support
the right of Ukrainians to choose their own destiny;
why we partner with Tunisians and the people
of Myanmar as they make historic transitions
to democracy. This has been my foreign
policy during my presidency. By necessity, we work with
all countries, and many of them are not democracies. Some of them are democracies
in the sense they have elections, but not
democracies in the sense of actually permitting
participation and dissent. But our trajectory as a
country has been to support the efforts of those who
believe in self-governance, who believe in those ideas
that began here so many years ago. And it is not simply a
matter of us being true to our values. It’s not just a
matter of idealism. I believe it is practical
for the United States to support democracies. (applause) Because history shows
us that countries with democratic governance tend
to be more just, and more stable, and more successful. Open, democratic societies
can deliver more prosperity –because when people are
free to think for themselves and share ideas and discover
and create — the young people who are here, what
they’re able to do through the Internet and technology,
that’s when innovation is unleashed, when economies
truly flourish. That’s when new products,
and new services, and new ideas wash through
an economy. In contrast to regimes
that rule by coercion, democracies are rooted in
consent of the governed — citizens know that there’s
a path for peaceful change, including the moral
force of nonviolence. And that brings a stability
that so often can facilitate economic growth. The history of the past two
centuries indicates that democracies are less
likely to fight wars among themselves. So more democracy is good
for the people of the world, but it’s also good for
our national security. Which is why America’s
closest friends are democracies — like Greece. It’s why we stand together
in NATO — an alliance of democracies. In recent years, we’ve made
historic investments in NATO, increased America’s
presence in Europe, and today’s NATO — the world’s
greatest alliance — is as strong and as ready
as it’s ever been. And I am confident that just
as America’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance
has endured for seven decades –whether it’s
been under a Democratic or Republican administration
— that commitment will continue, including our
pledge and our treaty obligation to
defend every ally. Our democracies show
that we’re stronger than terrorists, and
fundamentalists, and absolutists who can’t
tolerate difference, can’t tolerate ideas that vary
from their own, who try to change people’s way of life
through violence and would make us betray or
shrink from our values. Democracy is stronger than
organizations like ISIL. Because our democracies are
inclusive, we’re able to welcome people and refugees
in need to our countries. And nowhere have we seen
that compassion more evident than here in Greece. (applause) The Greek people’s
generosity towards refugees arriving on your shores
has inspired the world. That doesn’t mean that you
should be left on your own — (applause) — and only a
truly collective response by Europe and the world can
ensure that these desperate people receive the
support that they need. Greece cannot be expected to
bear the bulk of the burden alone — but the fact that
your democracy opens your heart to people in need in a
way that might not otherwise be the case. Just as democracies are
premised on the peaceful resolution of disagreements
within our societies, we also believe that
cooperation and dialogue is the best way to address
challenges between nations. And so it is my belief that
democracies are more likely to try to resolve conflicts
between nations in a way that does not result in war. That’s how, with diplomacy,
we were able to shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons
program without firing a shot. With diplomacy, the United
States opened relations with Cuba. (applause) With diplomacy, we joined
Greece and nearly 200 nations in the most
ambitious agreement ever to save our planet
from climate change. (applause) And speaking of climate
change, I would point out that there is a connection
between democracy and science. The premise of science is
that we observe and we test our hypotheses, our ideas. We base decisions on facts,
not superstition; not what our ideology tells us, but
rather what we can observe. And at a time when the globe
is shrinking and more and more we’re going to have to
take collective action to deal with problems like
climate change, the presence of a democratic debate
allows the science to flourish and to shape our
collective responses. Now, democracy, like all
human institutions, is imperfect. It can be slow; it can be
frustrating; it can be hard; it can be messy. Politicians tend to be
unpopular in democracies, regardless of party,
because, by definition, democracies require that you
don’t get a hundred percent of what you want. It requires compromise. Winston Churchill famously
said that democracy is the worst form of government —
except for all the others. (laughter) And in a multiethnic,
multiracial, multicultural society, like the United
States, democracy can be especially complicated. Believe me, I know. (laughter) But it is better than the
alternatives because it allows us to peacefully work
through our differences and move closer to our ideals. It allows us to test new
ideas and it allows us to correct for mistakes. Any action by a President,
or any result of an election, or any legislation
that has proven flawed can be corrected through the
process of democracy. And throughout our history,
it’s how we have come to see that all people are created
equal — even though, when we were founded, that
was not the case. We could work to expand the
rights that were established in our founding to African
Americans, and to women, to Americans with disabilities,
to Native Americans; why all Americans now have the
freedom to marry the person they love. (applause) It’s why we welcome people
of all races and all religions and all
backgrounds, and immigrants who strive to give their
children a better life and who make our
country stronger. And so here, where democracy
was born, we affirm once more the rights and the
ideals and the institutions upon which our way
of life endures. Freedom of speech and
assembly — because true legitimacy can only come
from the people, who must never be silenced. A free press to expose
injustice and corruption and hold leaders accountable. Freedom of religion —
because we’re all equal in the eyes of God. Independent judiciaries to
uphold rule of law and human rights. Separation of powers to
limit the reach of any one branch of government. Free and fair elections —
because citizens must be able to choose their own
leaders, even if your candidate doesn’t
always win. (laughter) We compete hard in campaigns
in America and here in Greece. But after the election,
democracy depends on a peaceful transition of
power, especially when you don’t get the
result you want. (applause) And as you may have noticed,
the next American president and I could not
be more different. (applause) We have very different
points of view, but American democracy is bigger
than any one person. (applause) That’s why we have a
tradition of the outgoing president welcoming the new
one in — as I did last week. And why, in the coming
weeks, my administration will do everything we can
to support the smoothest transition possible —
because that’s how democracy has to work. (applause) And that’s why, as hard as
it can be sometimes, it’s important for young people,
in particular, who are just now becoming involved in the
lives of their countries, to understand that progress
follows a winding path — sometimes forward, sometimes
back — but as long as we retain our faith in
democracy, as long as we retain our faith in the
people, as long as we don’t waver from those central
principles that ensure a lively, open debate, then
our future will be okay, because it remains the most
effective form of government ever devised by man. It is true, of course, over
the last several years that we’ve seen democracies faced
with serious challenges. And I want to mention two
that have an impact here in Greece, haven an impact in
the United States, and are having an impact
around the world. The first involves the
paradox of a modern, global economy. The same forces of
globalization and technology and integration that have
delivered so much progress, have created so much wealth,
have also revealed deep fault lines. Around the world,
integration and closer cooperation, and greater
trade and commerce, and the Internet — all have
improved the lives of billions of people — lifted
families from extreme poverty, cured diseases,
helped people live longer, gave them more access to
education and opportunity than at any time
in human history. I’ve often said to young
people in the United States, if you had to choose a
moment in history to be born, and you did not know
ahead of time who you would be — you didn’t know
whether you were going to be born into a wealthy family
or a poor family, what country you’d be born,
whether you were going to be a man or a woman — if you
had to choose blindly what moment you’d want to be
born you’d choose now. Because the world has
never, collectively, been wealthier, better educated,
healthier, less violent than it is today. That’s hard to imagine,
given what we see in the news, but it’s true. And a lot of that has to do
with the developments of a integrated, global economy. But trends underway for
decades have meant that in many countries and in many
communities there have been enormous disruptions. Technology and automation
mean that goods can be produced with fewer workers. It means jobs and
manufacturing can move across borders where wages
are lower or rights are less protected. And that means that workers
and unions oftentimes have less leverage to bargain
for better wages, better benefits, have more
difficulty competing in the global marketplace. Hardworking families worry
their kids may not be better off than they were because
of this global competition. What we’ve also seen is that
this global integration is increasing the tendencies
towards inequality, both between nations and within
nations, at an accelerated pace. And when we see people —
global elites, wealthy corporations — seemingly
living by a different set of rules, avoiding taxes,
manipulating loopholes — when the rich and the
powerful appear to game the system and accumulate vast
wealth while middle and working-class families
struggle to make ends meet, this feeds a profound sense
of injustice and a feeling that our economies are
increasingly unfair. This inequality now
constitutes one of the greatest challenges to
our economies and to our democracies. An inequality that was once
tolerated because people didn’t know how unequal
things were now won’t be tolerated because everybody
has a cellphone and can see how unequal things are. The awareness that people
have in the smallest African village, they can see how
people in London or New York are living. The poorest child in any
of our countries now has a sense of what other people
have that they don’t. So not only is there
increasing inequality, but also there is greater
awareness of inequality. And that’s a volatile
mix for our democracies. And this is why addressing
inequality has been one of the key areas of focus
for my economic policy. In our countries, in America
and in most advanced market economies, we want people
to be rewarded for their achievement. We think that people should
be rewarded if they come up with a new product or a new
service that is popular and helps a lot of people. But when a CEO of a company
now makes more money in a single day than a typical
worker does in an entire year, when it’s harder for
workers to climb their way up the economic ladder, when
they see a factory close that used to support an
entire city or town, fuels the feeling that
globalization only benefits those at the top. And the reaction can drag
down a country’s growth and make recessions more likely. It can also lead to politics
that create an unhealthy competition
between countries. Rather than a win-win
situation, people perceive that if you’re winning, I’m
losing, and barriers come up and walls come up. And in advanced economies,
there are at times movements from both the left and the
right to put a stop to integration, and to push
back against technology, and to try to bring back jobs
and industries that have been disappearing
for decades. So this impulse to pull back
from a globalized world is understandable. If people feel that they’re
losing control of their future, they will push back. We have seen it
here in Greece. We’ve seen it across Europe. We’ve seen it in
the United States. We saw it in the vote in
Britain to leave the EU. But given the nature of
technology, it is my assertion that it’s not
possible to cut ourselves off from one another. We now are living in a
global supply chain. Our growth comes through
innovation and ideas that are crossing borders
all the time. The jobs of tomorrow will
inevitably be different from the jobs of the past. So we can’t look backwards
for answers, we have to look forward. We cannot sever the
connections that have enabled so much progress
and so much wealth. For when competition for
resources is perceived as zero-sum, we put ourselves
on a path to conflict both within countries and
between countries. So I firmly believe that the
best hope for human progress remains open markets
combined with democracy and human rights. But I have argued that
the current path of globalization demands
a course correction. In the years and decades
ahead, our countries have to make sure that the benefits
of an integrated global economy are more broadly
shared by more people, and that the negative impacts
are squarely addressed. (applause) And we actually know the
path to building more inclusive economies. It’s just we too often don’t
have the political will or desire to get it done. We know we need bold
policies that spur growth and support jobs. We know that we need to give
workers more leverage and better wages, and that, in
fact, if you give workers better wages businesses do
better, too, because their customers now have
money to spend. We know that we have to
invest more in our people — the education of our young
people, the skills and training to compete
in the global economy. We have to make sure that it
is easy for young people who are eager to learn and eager
to work to get the education that they need, the training
that they need, without taking on huge
amounts of debt. We know that we have to
encourage entrepreneurship so that it’s easier to start
a business and do business. (applause) We know that we have to
strengthen the social compact so that the safety
net that is available for people, including quality
health care and retirement benefits, are there even if
people aren’t working in the same job for 30 years,
or 40 years, or 50 years. We have to modernize our
infrastructure, which will put people back to work. We have to commit to the
science and research and development that
sparks new industries. In our trading
relationships, we have to make sure that trade works
for us, and not against us. And that means insisting
on high standards in all countries to support jobs,
strong protections for workers, strong protections
for the environment, so that even as we freely trade,
people and workers in all countries see the benefits
of trade in their own lives, not just benefits for the
bottom line of large, multinational corporations. These are the kinds of
policies, this is the work that I’ve pursued throughout
my time as President. Keep in mind I took office
in the midst of the worst crisis since the
Great Depression. And we pursued a recovery
that has been shared now by the vast majority
of Americans. We put people back to work
building bridges and roads. (applause) We passed tax cuts
for the middle class. We asked the wealthiest
Americans to pay a little more taxes —
their fair share. We intervened to save our
auto industry, but insisted that the auto industry
become more energy efficient, produce better
cars that reduce pollution. We put in place policies to
help students with loans and protect consumers
from fraud. We passed the strongest Wall
Street reforms in history so that the excesses and abuses
that triggered the global financial crisis never
happen again — or at least don’t start on Wall Street. And today, our businesses
have created more than 15 million new jobs. Incomes last year in America
rose faster than any time since 1968. Poverty fell at the
fastest rate since 1968. Inequality is
being narrowed. And we’ve also begun to
close the pay gap between men and women. We declared that health care
in America is a privilege not for the few, but
a right for everybody. Today our uninsured rate
is at the lowest levels on record. And we’ve done all this
while doubling our production of clean energy,
lowering our carbon pollution faster than
any advanced nation. So we’ve proven that you can
grow the economy and reduce the carbon emissions that
cause climate change at the same time. (applause) Now, I say all this not
because we’ve solved every problem. Our work is far
from complete. There are still too many
people in America who are worried about their futures. Still too many people who
are working at wages that don’t get them above
the poverty line. Still too many young people
who don’t see opportunity. But the policies I describe
point the direction for where we need to go
in building inclusive economies. And that’s how democracies
can deliver the prosperity and hope that
our people need. And when people have
opportunity and they feel confidence the future, they
are less likely to turn on each other and they’re less
likely to appeal to some of the darker forces that exist
in all our societies — those that can
tear us apart. Here in Greece, you’re undergoing similar transformations. The first step has been to
build a foundation that allows you to return to
robust economic growth. And we don’t need to recount
all the causes of the economic crisis
here in Greece. If we’re honest, we can
acknowledge that it was a mix of both internal
and external forces. The Greek economy and the
level of debt had become unsustainable. And in this global economy,
investment and jobs flow to countries where governments
are efficient, not bloated, where the rules are clear. To stay competitive, to
attract investment that creates jobs, Greece had
to start a reform process. Of course, the world,
I don’t think, fully appreciates the
extraordinary pain these reforms have involved, or
the tremendous sacrifices that you, the Greek
people, have made. I’ve been aware of it, and
I’ve been proud of all that my administration has done
to try to support Greece in these efforts. (applause) And part of the purpose of
my visit is to highlight for the world the important
steps that have been taken here in Greece. Today, the budget
is back in surplus. Parliament passed reforms
to make the economy more competitive. Yes, there is still
much more work to do. I want to commend Prime
Minister Tsipras for the very difficult reforms his
government is pursuing to put the economy on
a firmer footing. Now, as Greece works to
attract more investment, and to prevent old imbalances
from re-emerging, and to put your economy on a stronger
foundation, you’ll continue to have the full support
of the United States. At the same time, I will
continue to urge creditors to take the steps needed to
put Greece on a path towards sustained economic recovery. (applause) As Greece continues to
implement reforms, the IMF has said that debt relief
will be crucial to get Greece back to growth. They are right. It is important because if
reforms here are going to be sustained, people need to
see hope, and they need to see progress. And the young people who are
in attendance here today and all across the country need
to know there is a future — there is an education and
jobs that are worthy of your incredible potential. You don’t have to travel
overseas, you can put roots right here in your home,
in Greece, and succeed. (applause) And I’m confident that if
you stay the course, as hard as it has been, Greece
will see brighter days. Because, in this magnificent
hall and center — this symbol of the Greek culture
and resilience — we’re reminded that just as your
strength and resolve have allowed you to overcome
great odds throughout your history, nothing can break
the spirit of the Greek people. You will overcome this
period of challenge just as you have other
challenges in the past. So economics is something
that will be central to preserving our democracies. When our economies don’t
work, our democracies become distorted and, in some
cases, break down. But this brings me to
another pressing challenge that our democracies face —
how do we ensure that our diverse, multicultural,
multiracial, multi-religious world and our diverse
nations uphold both the rights of individuals and a
fundamental civic adherence to a common creed that
binds us together. Democracy is simplest where
everybody thinks alike, looks alike, eats the same
food, worships the same God. Democracy becomes more
difficult when there are people coming from a variety
of backgrounds and trying to live together. In our globalized world,
with the migration of people and the rapid movement of
ideas and cultures and traditions, we see
increasingly this blend of forces mixing together in
ways that often enrich our societies but also
cause tensions. In the Information Age, the
unprecedented exchange of information can always
accentuate differences, or seem to threaten
cherished ways of life. It used to be that you might
not know how people in another part of your
country, or in the cities versus the countryside,
were living. Now everybody knows how
everybody is living, and everybody can feel
threatened sometimes if people don’t do things
exactly the way they do things. And they start asking
themselves questions about their own identity. And it can create a
volatile politics. Faced with this new reality
where cultures clash, it’s inevitable that some
will seek a comfort in nationalism or tribe
or ethnicity or sect. In countries that are held
together by borders that were drawn by colonial
powers, including many countries in the Middle East
and in Africa, it can be tempting to fall back on
perceived safety of enclaves and tribal divisions. In a world of widening
inequality, there’s a growing suspicion — or even
disdain — for elites and institutions that seem
remote from the daily lives of ordinary people. What an irony it is, at a
time when we can reach out to people in the most remote
corners of the planet, so many citizens feel
disconnected from their own governments. So, just as we have to
have an inclusive economic strategy, we have to have
an exclusive political and cultural strategy. In all of our capitals,
we have to keep making government more efficient,
more effective in responding to the daily
needs to citizens. Governing institutions,
whether in Athens, Brussels, London, Washington, have
to be responsive to the concerns of citizens. People have to know that
they’re being heard. Here in Europe, even with
today’s challenges, I believe that by virtue
of the progress it has delivered over the decades
— the stability it has provided, the security it’s
reinforced — that European integration and the European
Union remains one of the great political and economic
achievements of human history. (applause) And today more than ever,
the world needs a Europe that is strong and
prosperous and democratic. But I think all institutions
in Europe have to ask themselves: How can we make
sure that people within individual countries feel as
if their voices are still being heard, that their
identities are being affirmed, that the decisions
that are being made that will have a critical impact
on their lives are not so remote that they have no
ability to impact them? We have to make clear that
governments exist to serve the interest of citizens,
and not the other way around. And so this is why, as
President of the United States, I’ve pursued
initiatives like the Open Government Partnership that
promotes transparency and accountability so that
ordinary people know more about the decisions that
affect their lives. That’s why both at home and
around the world, we have taken steps to fight
corruption that can rot a society from within. As authoritarian governments
work to close space that citizens depend upon to
organize and have their voices heard, we’ve begun
the work of empowering civil society to defend democratic
values and promote solutions to the problems within
our communities. And as so many people around
the world sometimes are tempted by cynicism and not
being involved because they think that politicians and
government don’t care about them, we’ve created networks
for young leaders and invested in young
entrepreneurs, because we believe that the hope and
renewal of our societies begins with the
voices of youth. (applause) In closing, our globalized
world is passing through a time of profound change. Yes, there is uncertainty
and there is unease, and none of us can
know the future. History does not move
in a straight line. Civil rights in America did
not move in a straight line. Democracy in Greece did not
move in a straight line. The evolution of a unified
Europe certainly has not moved in a straight line. And progress is
never a guarantee. Progress has to be earned
by every generation. But I believe history
gives us hope. Twenty-five centuries after
Athens first pointed the way, 250 years after the
beginning of the great American journey, my faith
and my confidence, my certainty in our democratic
ideals and universal values remain undiminished. I believe more strongly than
ever that Dr. King was right when he said that, “The arc
of the moral universe is long, but it bends
towards justice.” (applause) But it bends towards
justice not because it is inevitable, but because we
bend it towards justice; not because there are not going
to be barriers to achieving justice, but because there
will be people, generation after generation, who have
the vision and the courage and the will to bend the
arc of our lives in the direction of a
better future. In the United States, and in
every place I have visited these last eight years,
I have met citizens, especially young people, who
have chosen hope over fear, who believe that they can
shape their own destiny, who refuse to accept the world
as it is and are determined to remake it as
it should be. They have inspired me. In every corner of the
world, I have met people who, in their daily lives,
demonstrate that despite differences of race or
religion or creed or color, we have the capacity to see
each other in ourselves. Like the woman here in
Greece who said of the refugees arriving on these
shores, “We live under the same sun. We fall in love
under the same moon. We are all human — we have
to help these people.” Women like that
give me hope. (applause) In all of our communities,
in all of our countries, I still believe there’s
more of what Greeks call philotimo — (applause) — love and respect and
kindness for family and community and country, and a
sense that we’re all in this together, with obligations
to each other. Philotimo — I see it every
day — and that gives me hope. (applause) Because in the end,
it is up to us. It’s not somebody else’s
job, it’s not somebody else’s responsibility, but
it’s the citizens of our countries and citizens of
the world to bend that arc of history towards justice. And that’s what democracy
allows us to do. That’s why the most
important office in any country is not president
or prime minister. The most important
title is “citizen.” (applause) And in all of our nations,
it will always be our citizens who decide the kind
of countries we will be, the ideals that we will reach
for, and the values that will define us. In this great, imperfect,
but necessary system of self-government, power and
progress will always come from the demos —
from “We, the people.” And I’m confident that as
long as we are true to that system of self-government,
that our futures will be bright. Thank you very much. (applause) Zito I ellas. (applause)

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