2020 was indeed a very difficult year. A year during which we became acquainted with death. With loneliness and fear. With financial misery.
A year lost, to a degree, for our children, who were deprived of their contact with their schools, with their classmates, with society.
But beyond the pandemic, this year was significant for our national issues. The most difficult since 1974.
It was the year that decades of givens in our relations with Turkey were overturned.
It was the year that the Turks carried out what they threatened to do for years – but that we never believed they would actually dare to do.
It was the year they began to harvest their claims in the Eastern Aegean and Mediterranean, trampling on the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus, right under our noses, in the face of our restless and awkward gaze.
This is not the first time this has happened. It has happened in the past. From "Chora" – do you remember Andreas Papandreou declaring: "you sank the 'Chora'"? – to today’s Oruc Reis. The difference is that now they have become bolder.
We see it clearly, they are determined to try everything.
It does not matter why they do it. The result matters.
The difference this time – and it is a big difference – is that Turkey's relations with the West are at their worst in decades, and on the other hand, Greece's relations with the West are the best they have been in decades.
Just the fact that America imposed sanctions on Turkey gives pause. The mere fact that a former Secretary of Defense is calling for a suspension of Ankara’s membership in NATO says a lot.
And, in addition, the incoming President of the United States will be a political leader who knows us, who knows our issues, who knows all about Erdogan's relationship with Trump.
2021, therefore, 200 years after the liberation of Greece from the Turks, may be a decisive time in its relations with Turkey.
Regarding issues of importance to Greek-Americans: the pandemic ‘froze’ the life of our community, and society in general.
However, 2020 was a successful, dynamic time of reorganization in our church life.
The new Archbishop Elpidophoros, sometimes with slow, measured steps and sometimes with forceful but necessary actions, put his stamp on the Archdiocese: he mobilized and solved one problem after another. His omnipresence brings hope and optimism to our ecclesiastical affairs.
It lays the groundwork for broader breakthroughs in the new year, as soon as conditions allow, as soon as the Coronavirus is dealt with, as soon as our churches reopen their doors to the faithful.
Much remains to be done. On many fronts – such as the relations of the Greek Diaspora with Greece.
So let us welcome 2021 with hope. Let us welcome 2021 with the knowledge that the vaccine or vaccines will help us overcome the nightmare of the virus.
With faith in the power of mankind to make a new beginning.
With optimism. And with the full awareness of our ephemeral nature.
I wholeheartedly wish you all Health, Happiness and Peace in 2021!