Speech by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, at the 75th anniversary celebration of the Bank of Greece, at the Athens Music Hall, on 3 November 2003
03/11/2003 - Speeches
Speech by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European
3 November 2003
Mr. President of the Republic,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me and an
immense pleasure to be here on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Bank
The Bank of Greece has been extraordinarily successful all over its
long-standing responsibilities here. We heard the Prime Minister, we heard the
Governor of the Central Bank of
. I would particularly praise the most recent period of time when, very wisely,
with great success and, I would say, great steadiness, a policy of convergence
that has permitted the entry of
in the euro area has been put into place.
I am also very impressed, I have to say, by the wisdom of
and of the Bank of Greece, when they decided to be sure that full convergence
would be established before entry in the euro area. This idea of waiting –if I
may– since 1 January 2001, in order to be sure to have fully converged and be
in time for the changeover of notes and coins, has been really a very wise
decision. A great success.
When I was a child, my professors –and
I studied Ancient Greek, I’m the son and grandson of professors of Greek,
Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister– used to tell me when I was in my grammar
βραδέως”, which was considered a very
important saying, capturing the wisdom of the Ancient Greeks and, also, I
understand, of Greece today.
Let me make three short remarks. Because we are here in
, at the very roots of our civilisation, I cannot hide that I am particularly
moved– because of my education and tradition. This is certainly a time not
only for celebration, but also for memory. Not only for the 75 years of memory
that Bank of Greece is celebrating today so wonderfully, but perhaps more –perhaps
several thousand years. What we are doing today, peacefully, all over
, is the accomplishment of the Greek ideal of universality that is so visibly
and beautifully captured in the Olympic Game concept. It is an immense
satisfaction to celebrate today the Bank of Greece which is a member of the
European monetary team with the entire central banks global constituency, with
so many fellow Governors coming from all over the world, illustrating this
universality that we are sharing.
Secondly, I would also say that it is a great time for rejoicing within
the Eurosystem and the European System of Central Banks. We are a profoundly
united monetary team, with a very good team spirit –as again Nicholas said–
which is the legacy of Wim Duisenberg, our First President, my predecessor. And
I have to say that with Lucas Papademos, the Vice-President, with all Members of
the Governing Council, Members of the Board and fellow national central banks’
Governors, we will maintain this legacy. with great determination, because
it is one of our major assets.
This celebration is also for me an occasion to praise the priceless
contribution of the Bank of Greece –and I already mentioned the very great
success of convergence of the Bank of Greece– pursuing sound monetary policy
over time, but I have also to mention the changeover towards the new notes and
coins which has been a success here, as it has been a success all over Europe,
because we had a united team and that united team did a very good job.
We will continue to do so, and as it was said a moment ago by the Prime
Minister and by the Governor of the Central Bank of
what we have to deliver to the full body of the Euro area is a credible
currency. A credible currency that would inspire confidence to our own people,
to the people of Greece, as well as to the people of Europe, of the Eurozone –the
305 million inhabitants that are our fellow citizens– and also, which would
inspire confidence to all economic agents in order to bring about a major
contribution to growth and job creation.
And lastly I would also mention the formidable energy of the Bank of
Greece and of
itself. Being here in Athens, this energy is visible everywhere: in the
activity of economic agents, in the public works to prepare for the Olympics, in
the very active preparation of these events, in the growth figures that we
mentioned a moment ago and are envied by other economies. We had a magnificent
illustration yesterday, of this energy and what it means, when we shared
with Zorbas and Mikis Theodorakis, this formidable display of vibrancy and of
That is what I wanted to tell you, my dear Nicholas, and I would like, in
front of all your friends, in front of the President, the Prime Minister and
Ministers, I would like to send my best wishes for many-many years of success
within this independent European monetary team, made of the independent European
Central Bank and the independent national central banks.
means accountability, Mr Prime Minister, as you said, namely, in the case of a
Central bank, accountability vis-ΰ-vis public opinion. Indeed, accountability
vis-ΰ-vis public opinion is the ultimate rule for those independent
institutions that are central banks in modern democracies.
Thank you for your attention.