End of the 10th “Routes of the Olive Tree”  - 3/9/2008

The Cultural Route “The Routes of the Olive Tree 2008”, an international event of special importance, was completed after 45 days of journey through 12 countries. The participants followed the tracks of two great civilizations: first the Olive Tree Routes and later the Silk Routes, crossing the following countries: Greece, Georgia, Azerbaitzan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Rumania and Bulgaria.
This a Chamber initiative was implemented by the Cultural Foundation “The Olive Tree Routes“ and was placed under the auspices of several Greek and international institutions, such as the Central Union of Greek Chambers, the European Chamber, the European Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Development and the Ministry of Culture, which had officially included the Routes in the “Cultural Year of Greece in China”.
The Journey started on July 14, 2008 from Messinia with a message of Peace to Asia, Beijing and Moscow, in the framework of “2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue”. It was an impressive and courageous endeavour of great difficulty, conveying the important message of peaceful coexistence as a requirement of well being. The message was accepted with joy in all the transit countries, where the Greek delegation received a warm welcome and the local press covered the event.

The initial itinerary had to be modified on the way due to the “silent refusal” of Chinese authorities to grant entrance permission to the country, after all the time limits had expired (the delegation reached the Chinese borders and was waiting for the green light), and every possible action had been taken (an official entrance demand had been filed and the initiative had been officially included in the Cultural Year of Greece in China).
Apart from the motorcyclists, whose participation made the Routes of the Olive Tree special, the delegation consisted of delegates of UNESCO (which has acknowledged the Routes of the Olive Tree as “International Cultural Itinerary”) and the European Council (which has officially acknowledged the Olive Tree Routes as “Great European Cultural Itinerary”), scientists, support staff etc.

The most important transit cities were Izmir, Baku, Tashkent, Almaty, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and Bucharest, where the authorities organized successful promotion events about the civilisation of the olive tree and its products as well as contacts with local institutions, in particular Chambers and Universities. The purpose was to inaugurate a steady communication channel with the signing of Cooperation Memoranda, opening the perspective of cooperation and exchanges in all levels. Totally 14 Cooperation Memoranda were signed among the Central Union of Greek Chambers, represented by the President of the Messinian Chamber and chief of the delegation Mr. Giorgos Karampatos, the Cultural Foundation “The Routes of the Olive Tree”, and important instituitions in all the above countries, such as the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Tashkent, Kazakhstan, Moscow, Bucharest, Odessa and the Universities of Almaty and Bucharest. During the work meetings the President of the Messinian Chamber and delegation Chief Mr. Giorgos Karampatos was informed in details about the financial reality and needs in the transit countries, so that the next steps for an efficient and deep cooperation are organized in the best possible way.

Meetings of special interest took place in Moscow, where there were contacts with local authorities and events for the Russian public. In particular, at consecutive work meetings between Mr. G. Karampatos and the District and the Municipality of Moscow, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Moscow, the “Routes of the Olive Tree” were officially placed under the auspices of the District and the Municipality of Moscow; the scheduled great Feast of the Olive Tree and the Entrepreneurs’ Forum in Moscow was cancelled because of the death of Michalis Kalogeropoulos, a member of the Organizing Committee, during the Journey. There was an agreement to realize all the events in September 2009 and make special mention of the Olive Grove of Peace that is being constructed in Sotsi, in memory of Michalis.

A topic of the above contacts was the creation of a Center of Olive Oil Tasting and Distribution of Greek Olive Oil Products and other traditional products was also discussed, aiming at a more efficient marketing of these products in Russia. Mr. G. Karampatos and his associates had also an important meeting with the General Director and members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Moscow; during this meeting the bases for a broader cooperation were set and details were discussed about strengthening the entrepreneurship relations among their members and the potential presence of our businessmen in Russian market.

The innovation of this year’s 10th Route was the extension of the contact network in countries outside the Mediterranean and Europe and the creation of a “Network of small friends of the Olive Tree Routes” in the transit countries (in cooperation with the Center of Environmental Training of Kalamata). The target is the update of future consumers in these countries and their acquaintance with the places, history and products of the olive tree.
The promotion events for the olive tree civilisation included a great Exhibition entitled “The Olive Tree Routes, routes of intercultural dialogue” with 2 large sections dedicated to the Olive Tree and Olive Oil and the meeting of 2 civilizations: “the Olive Tree Routes” and the “Silk Routes”. They also included a painting workshop about olive tree, olive oil products tasting, distribution of leaflets and projection of audiovisual material about this subject.
At the return of the motorcyclists to Greece, their first concern was a stop in Athens to say “goodbye” to their beloved co-traveler, close friend and associate of the Olive Tree Routes Michalis Kalogeropoulos, who left them so soon.
The Press Office


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