“Democracy and Books” Weekend to Be Held At Costa Navarino

The event, held in the framework of the NYTimes Athens Democracy Forum, will allow participants to explore the role of books in democracy with influential speakers.


“Such discussions usually take place on gloomy, rainy afternoons in London, Paris or New York,” Mark Thompson said in mock disappointment in the warm sunshine surrounded by the impeccable grounds of the seaside Costa Navarino resort in Messinia, “but this location was the best we could find.”

The President and CEO of the New York Times Company made the quip last September speaking at the Democracy & Film Weekend, an event exploring cinema’s role in democracy that was held at the resort in the framework of the Athens Democracy Forum. The latter is an annual event organized in the capital by the New York Times in collaboration with the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), the City of Athens and Kathimerini newspaper

Now Thompson and other influential figures will once again eschew the drearier northern weather and return to Costa Navarino for a repeat of the satellite event. Only this year, to coincide with Athens being named the UNESCO World Book Capital 2018, the focus will turn from film to the written word.

The Democracy and Books Weekend will be held in Costa Navarino between September 14-16. The three-day program, held again shortly before the Athens Democracy Forum, will “bring together internationally acclaimed speakers, authors, key opinion leaders and influencers to discuss the longstanding interrelationship between democracy and books and their role during these times of ideological upheaval, as well as understand their capacity as agents for political change and social awareness.”

The weekend’s main discussion will be moderated by Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review and will feature a panel of influential speakers including Pascal Bruckner, professor and writer, Stanley Johnson, author, environmentalist & former member of the European Parliament, Alexandra Pringle, group editor in chief at Bloomsbury, Radoslaw Sikorski, former minister of foreign affairs of Poland and senior fellow at Harvard University, and Mark Thompson. Additional speakers are to be announced shortly.

The event will also feature a reading by Pascal Bruckner from his controversial latest book An Imaginary Racism: Islamophobia and Guilt, in which he argues that the term Islamophobia has been used to silence legitimate criticism of Islam. The reading will be followed by a Q&A session. And Alexandra Pringle of Bloomsbury will lead a discussion titled “How Publishing Works” dissecting the process of how books go through the various stages from manuscript to bookstore.

Together with the discussions and workshops, participants will also be able to take part in a range of activities exploring the weekend’s topic as well as the Messinian countryside and traditions.

The activities will include visits to the temporary exhibition “When Pictures Paint a Thousand Words” featuring book illustrations by Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, one of the greatest Greek artists of the 20th century; ‘philosophy walks’ through olive groves led by Professor Eleni Volonaki who will discuss ancient Greek philosophers’ views on democracy; cooking workshops and olive oil tasting sessions.

And of course the resort’s two 18-hole golf courses beckon for all those who want to extend the discussion out on the links surrounded by the glorious Peloponnesian countryside.

To find out more about the weekend and to book a place click here.


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