Your Eminence,

Trustees of the Onassis Foundation,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the center of Manhattan,

where people come together to provide and to taste the best the world has to offer,

it gives me great pleasure to inaugurate a gem of culture,

an exhibition with a very long reach.

One thousand five hundred visitors a day come to discover beauty in a fashion they are not used to,

and their response as well as the response of the media has been outstanding.

It has always been my firm belief that the day America discovers Byzantium,

and when I say America I mean popular media and its audience,

they will fall in love.

The role of Byzantium in the development of the world,

its contribution to global culture,

its association with faith as well as with religion,

its participation in scientific discovery,

its ease with multi-culturalism

will not go unnoticed for long in this country.

The associations are too obvious to miss.

And the question is “What happens when they do meet?”

It depends in the way they get introduced.

That is why I would like to thank and congratulate the Onassis Foundation for offering this wonderful cultural bridge between these two worlds.

It is a great introduction to a world in many ways still undiscovered.

Thank you.