Athens new mayor pledges to revitalize the city

The new mayor of Athens Costas Bakoyannis was sworn in Sunday in an open ceremony which took place at Plato’s Academy park, pledging hard work to revitalize the city for its citizens and visitors.

On the site where Greek philosopher Plato founded in 387 B.C. the first university of antiquity, the municipal officials who were elected in the two rounds of the local elections (May 25 and June 2) promised to serve the citizens.

It was the first of a series of ceremonies scheduled across Greece this week, as new municipal and regional councils formally take office on September 1.

“Today I had a great honor in my life so far to be sworn in as the 46th mayor of Athens. I promise that during the next four years I will not be a ruler, but servant of Athenians,” he said, addressing a cheering crowd.

“We chose to co-sign all together, the new local administration and you, citizens of the country’s capital, this significant contract of honor, in such a holy site, like Plato’s Academy (Akadimia Platonos in Greek),” he added.

The park which includes the archaeological site was symbolically chosen to host the ceremony instead of the city hall, as usual, to remind people that here Plato taught his students that governors should serve people’s interests, Bakoyannis said.

Today the district Akadimia Platonos is one of run-down neighborhoods in the “heart” of the Greek capital which reflect the deep wounds of the decade-long financial crisis.

“We want to present Athens as a new, modern European metropolitan city, a city which is safe and bright, with social justice and democracy, a city where one will not be struggling to survive, but want to live in. (We want) a city where everyone has a place, a city uniting us all. Those living here, working here, visiting her, loving her,” he said.

Bakoyannis, scion of a political dynasty in Greece, nephew of the newly elected conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, grandson of a former Premier and son of Dora Bakoyannis, former Foreign Affairs Minister and the first woman elected as Mayor of Athens (2003-2006), was one of the protagonists in the recent electoral battles for local administration.