Your Beatitude,

Your Eminence,

Distinguished Guests from Cyprus and abroad,

It is a great joy and an honour for me to be here today, to celebrate a distinguished son of this country, a notable Cypriot scientist, whose contribution to world science honours our country and is recognized in the world’s most important centres of science.

As President of the Republic of Cyprus, it brings me great pleasure to see the success of Cypriots who emigrated during difficult times at home to seek a better life overseas and have managed to not only grow and thrive, but to excel and to honour their homeland at the highest levels in the arts and sciences.

Tonight, we have the opportunity and the honour to award one Cypriot prodigy, one of three children born to Peter Efstathiou, from Achna, and Famagusta’s Christina Parperis, who immigrated to England in the 1950s. We shall award the Takis and Louki Nemitsas Prize in Physics to renowned Professor George Petros Efstathiou, a brilliant Cosmologist, who at a very young age embarked on a distinguished academic career at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, as a professor of astronomy and astrophysics.

George Efstathiou is renowned in international scientific circles for his pioneering use of computer simulations of structure formation in the universe. His work gave the first indications of a hitherto invisible force, so-called “dark energy”.

He has researched the traces of radiation left over from the birth of the cosmos and discovered that our Universe is part of a much greater structure.

Of course, I am not the best qualified to describe the achievements of George Efstathiou in a field that most of us can barely comprehend. I will add only that he founded and is a director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, which is one of the most important of its kind in the world and has already been awarded three prestigious international honours in the field of Cosmology.

Dear friends,

We are proud that people like George Efstathiou transcend our homeland’s narrow borders of and promote the spiritual virtues of our country – universally. For this, we thank him warmly.

Let us be honest, however. How much would we know of, and how much would we appreciate the existence of this brilliant scientist who honours us, had it not been for the contribution of the Takis and Louki Nemitsas Foundation, highlighting and rewarding our worthy and distinguished compatriots around the globe?

I wish to take this opportunity to praise the work of the Foundation and the generosity of Takis and Louki Nemitsas, who bestowed upon the Republic of Cyprus the Foundation, including all of their movable and immovable property. Since its establishment in 2009, the Takis and Louki Nemitsas Foundation has been awarding scholarships to Cypriot scientists whose research elicits inventions, discoveries and improvements “which would bear great benefit to Cyprus and thus to the whole world”, as stated in the Aims of the Foundation.

I also want to stress the fact that the Board of Trustees works voluntarily and altruistically. The Academic Council, the Secretary and Coordinator of the Foundation and other committees also work in the same manner. Their contribution is immeasurable.

Such initiatives not only reaffirm the greatness and generosity of our people, but also enhance our desire to be useful and beneficial to our country and to our people as exemplified by Takis and Louki Nemitsas.

In such difficult times as our country is experiencing, these undertakings are an invaluable contribution to our efforts to rebuild our economy and adjust our strength in face of the situation we are enduring. I recognise the trying conditions presently experienced by the Nemitsas Foundation, and I share the concerns of Takis Nemitsas about the Foundation’s future and its ability to maintain its commendable contribution.

The economic crisis we are experiencing has been a serious blow to the whole of Cypriot society and has unfavourably affected a multitude of foundations, organizations, citizens, and the state itself. The economic potential of the state has decreased radically, but our intention to help maintain worthy institutions, such as tonight’s, must be taken as a given. Together, we shall endeavour to cooperate in the hope of finding the best possible way to solve the shared problems we all face.
It is my hope and expectation that in a year’s time, when we award the 5th Nemitsas Prize honouring another worthy child of our homeland, we will be able to speak with more certainty and confidence about the future of our country and people.

I thank you for the confidence you have given us. I am grateful to the Nemitsas Foundation for its contribution, and to George Efstathiou for making the nation proud. I warmly and profoundly congratulate you.