ATHENS - "Greece, faithful to its historic legacy, remains a kind of 'outlying border' of the West toward the East - presenting through its free spirit and civilisation, a genuine and altruistic defence of peace, freedom and democracy," underlined President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos on Wednesday, inaugurating the launch of a series of events commemorating the 2,500-year anniversary since the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Salamis.
Through their victory, Pavlopoulos said, the ancient Greeks also defended the civilisation they had created, and which erected what today constitutes the first pillar of "our common European civilisation." At the same time, and for the first time in the world's history, they established the firm boundary between East and West that still exists today.
This boundary was not intended to divide and widen the distances between the West and the East but, through its historic course and its history perspective, to build bridges of communication with the East, bridges of peace, peaceful co-existence and co-creation. "With chief among them being the bridge of the equal and constructive Dialogue of Civilisations, since for us, the Greeks, a 'clash' between real civilisations is something inconceivable," said Pavlopoulos. It was unfortunate that in our times, for many and different reasons, civilisations chose to entrench and isolate themselves and create an ostensibly unbridgeable gap, the president added.
"The mission of the Dialogue of Civilisations is to close this gap and Greece, armed with its historic heritage, can and should play a key role," said Pavlopoulos.
In parallel, the Greeks' victory in the Greco-Persian Wars also demonstrated their overwhelming superiority and the stark contrast between the creative and restless Ancient Greek spirit and that of an illiberal state organisation dominated by despotism, either individual or collective, the president said - especially despotism in the guise of kingship, tyranny or oligarchy.
Closing his remarks, Pavlopoulos congratulated the Marianna Vardinoyannis Foundation, the ministry of culture and the interior ministry for "the excellent inspiration and initiative to co-organise this, historically significant, series of celebratory events to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Salamis.