Welcome note from Didier Hespel
Dear AIACE members,
As you are aware we unfortunately had to cancel the 2020 Congress because of the covid-19 pandemic. However, it has been decided to postpone the Congress until 2021 on 15-21 May with a similar programme. We’ll be following the format that proved a success in Lisbon last year, with two half-days of talks and discussions with well-known speakers focusing on European issues, followed by the General Assembly and our usual workshop sessions. And of course, representatives of the administration will be on hand to update you on new developments. Our international helpdesk will be there as well, to steer you through the Commission’s various IT applications. A new feature in 2020 will be a workshop on insurance, in response to the many questions we’ve received recently from members on the future of the various existing insurance policies and the new travel insurance policy. As with the Lisbon Congress we will again be offering a choice between an all-in package, and an à la carte formula for the different events (though there will be a registration fee to help defray our organisation costs).
Loutraki is a small seaside resort on the Gulf of Corinth, famous since Roman times for its therapeutic natural springs. Our working sessions will take place in a beautiful seafront hotel close to the town itself. Transfers will be laid on from Athens airport, which has flights from most European cities. The average temperature in Loutraki in May is 21°, and the weather is generally sunny, though there is always the slight possibility of a passing shower.
We hope you’ll join us in Loutraki for the 2021 Congress, and enjoy a relaxed break with former colleagues.
Didier Hespel Secretary General, in charge of the organization of the Congress
Welcome note from Despina Vamvakidou
In the year 2020, it will be exactly 10 years since the Hellenic Section of AIACE, although it had not yet completed its second year of operation, called for and organized the Yearly Congress in Thessaloniki.
At that time, the economic crisis had just begun in the country, and none of us, here in Greece, knew how it would end. At this point, we hope that the crisis is over and the country is entering the path of recovery.
This year, we have been struck by another crisis, which led to the postponement of our yearly get together. We wanted to organize the 2021 congress at a venue in the south part of the country instead of staying in the north of Greece. So, we decided to ask for the Yearly Congress to be held in Loutraki and Corinth, two cities separated by the Isthmus Channel. We hope you will like our choice too.
The Hellenic Section of AIACE has the honour of inviting you to meet in a region of Greece not only full of history, ancient and modern, but also with a very rich subsoil, a mild climate and agricultural tradition. During the winter time there are crops of oranges and lemons and during the summer months there is a large production of peaches, apricots, pears, olives and oil, but above all, the famous grapes from which the Corinthian raisin is made.
We will happily wait for you.
Despina Vamvakidou, AIACE-HELLAS
Welcome note from Joaquín Díaz Pardo
Λουτράκι (Loutraki) the ancient settlement of Thermae, is the spa town on the Gulf of Corinth to which I have the great pleasure of inviting you for our 2021 Annual Congress. Once again, to our delight, Greece, the cradle of Europe, has extended a welcome to us for our annual meeting: in 2010, we met in Thessaloniki, where the bright presence of the sea and the imprint of Byzantium left lasting memories. And from the north of the Aegean Sea, this time we travel down to the Gulf of Corinth, the crossroads of 2,500 years of monumental historical clashes and memories.
The use of therapeutic spas (or thalassotherapy to stick closer to the Greek), reminds us of Greek and Roman culture. Thermal springs have made evocative appearances in a whole host of literary works: from Marcel Proust and Stefan Zweig, through Thomas Mann to Françoise Sagan … not forgetting Agatha Christie along the way.
This traditional place of healing, rest and calm calls to us to take the time to foregather, share common memories as former servants of the European Civil Service, and to take an opportunity to remind ourselves of our statutory role and at the same time to reflect on and discuss developments in that Europe which is so dear to us.
While the Lisbon Congress was an extraordinary occasion that culminated in the celebration of AIACE’s Golden Jubilee, and saw our fine public service placed at the centre of our reflections, this time the calendar is marked by the beginning of a new institutional cycle, with a new Commission, presided over – an historic event – by a woman, and a new Parliament, with announced priorities which include advancing the European cause. Our 2021 Congress provides us with a stimulating opportunity to reaffirm our European commitment in the famously friendly ambiance of this annual gathering.
The programme for Loutraki will include a round table discussion, as trialled in Lisbon, giving us an opportunity to discuss topical issues and interesting developments on the European agenda.
Finally, on the practical side, as in Lisbon, where this alternative formula proved attractive to some, participants will have the possibility, if they so wish, of registering on a “DIY basis”, which allows everyone to make their own independent arrangements as regards the choice of accommodation and length of stay.
I look forward to welcoming you in large numbers in Loutraki.
Yours, with warmest wishes,
Joaquín Díaz Pardo, President of the International AIACE