As a newspaper, we are interested to understand the work of the diplomats, who have served in Balkans. Today we are talking with His Excellency Ambassador Nikolaou’s D. Kanellos, Greek diplomat who has served in Kosova and Albania. During his carrier, he also served in Barcelona, Houston, Bratislava, Hanoi, Baku, etc. For his diplomatic service, He has been decorated with many awards, recently we have decorated by the French Government with the title as a knight of art and letters (Chevalier des arts et des letters).
Illyria: Excellency, when did you serve in Kosova? What are some lasting impressions from your time there?
Kanellos: I had the luck to serve as the head of Greece’s Liaison Office in Pristina during the most dynamic time in Kosova’s post-war history. It was a time of dramatic changes in Kosova.
As a Greek diplomat, I worked very hard to help to rebuild the country and supporting newly established institution shared with UNMIK. Same time trying to build economic cooperation between Kosova and Greece. The Greek component of KFOR proudly contributed to build and maintain Kosova’s safety and security.
It was a time of intensive international negotiations and the Ahtisaari Comprehensive settlement proposal.
Foremost, it was a time of illness and the passing of Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, whom I had a privilege to meet and work with him. It was a time of big changes in party structures in Kosova. I was open heartedly received throughout Kosova, without any distinction of ethnicity.
I was very happy and honored to present my paintings at Kosova National Gallery of Arts. It was the first such event in Kosova that a foreign diplomat shares their artwork at the special exhibition at the National Gallery.
Illyria: You were at the Kosova Parliament Chamber when Declaration of Independence was voted and signed, but Greece still did not recognize Independence of the Republic of Kosova?!
Kanellos: Yes, I witnessed a historical moment for Kosova. Greece has been and remains its constructive partner. We have done our best to help Kosova and its people to strengthen its democratic institutions. We worked with parliament, government, civil society, and academia. Recognized Kosova Passport, voted for Kosova membership at World Bank and International Monetary Fund, etc. Of course, much more is needed. We expect that Kosova as well fulfills its promises, like establishing the Kosova Chamber of Commerce in Greece, etc. During my tenure in Kosova I felt love and respect for Greece, its culture, and its people. I made lots of friends throughout Kosova. I am an optimist in our future relations.
Illyria: You have served in Albania as well, can you share with us the difference of serving in Kosova and Albania?
Kanellos: People in Albania and people in Kosova have different pasts due to totalitarian systems they lived under. I do cherish good memories of both posts.
Illyria: Did you always want to become a diplomat? How did you get involved in diplomacy?
Kanellos: When I was a child even if I was practicing many other things like music, literature and journalism i always wanted to get involved in public affairs. Diplomacy was an unknown field in the humble social reality of my family in which both of my parents had not even a diploma of a primary elementary school. When I realised the existence of this option I endorsed it as my first duty.
Illyria: Kosova has some very good diplomats, but it is a young republic, and some are still learning the profession. What would be your advice to them?
Kanellos: To stay in contact with the reality of their history and in a disciplined contact with experienced foreign diplomats.
Illyria: Greece has been the first in the region to join EU and NATO, but there have been some ups and downs for the country, especially a few years ago when the financial crisis hit hard. What do you think the country needs the most in our time? How do you see its future?
Kanellos: This is a question that obliges me to use three words that i learned in Albanian language. Durim, punim, kuptim! My dear friend Greece needs to work hard with all its neighbors and all its natural and heritage beauties and strength. Greece i do believe will have a brilliant future and through a new Dogma and policy of simplicity, reliability and efficiency will be the new cornerstone of a new Europe.
Illyria: Excellency, it has got to our attention your unconventional way as a diplomat. In countries where you have served, you’re known as a painter, musician as well writer. Lately, you’re focused on writing books and columns.
Kanellos: The fact is that I follow the unconventional diplomacy because of existing unconventional values in modern diplomacy and the world.
Beyond my work, as a Greek diplomat, my passion is art and philosophy. I do enjoy painting as well as music. Writing is an intellectual need to share ideas. Publishing books takes time therefore, I write columns and get engaged in public dialogue via different contemporary media outlets.
My first two political novels entitled “THE LAST WARNING” were written under the intellectual pressure of describing the reality in the current confused society of a proud and important country with a great history “
The first novel with the under chapter (in ancient Greek LOGOS A “the answer of Spartakos” (edited in 2012) refers to the importance of Truth and Justice The protagonist reveals a secret Freedom exists only as a tool of the fight The long History of Greece in defending the rights and values of humanism turned to be a nightmare in the modern world… Free spirits started to revolt Right or wrong in my first book I describe how a group of successful professionals and good friends decide to abandon their egoism and luxury milieu…
In my second book edited by Ianos in 2019 in Athens, The last warning LOGOS B “the music of red orchestra” I explain the aesthetic and political significance of his actions. The political system tries to endorse his ideas He is nevertheless exhausted and trapped… The book Is dedicated to all those that have the best intentions for their own country The patriots in the real sense of the word. Literature takes a final shape in a creative search of truth and the main protagonist remains in his primitive thoughts and is fighting to adapt in the new conditions imposed by the system.
Illyria: Are the books and columns announcement of your readiness to enter politics?
Kanellos: I had that question from many of my friends. At this stage, no decision has been made. I do enjoy playing the guitar and singing with my friends. Recently I recorded a song.
I write and i paint I think mostly of the future of Greece and of all Europe.