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Politics

Belgian Royals Meet with Greek President in Athens

ATHENS – The excellent level of bilateral relations between Greece and Belgium and the common values and principles shared by the two countries were reaffirmed during a meeting on Monday between President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Mr. Pavlos Kotsonis and King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, who are on an official visit to Greece.

Welcoming the Belgian royal couple to the presidential mansion, President Sakellaropoulou noted that their visit reflected the very good relations of the two countries and the traditional bonds of friendship that link Belgium and Greece.

Belgium’s Queen Mathilde arrives at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, Monday, May 2, 2022.  (Aris Messinis/Pool via AP)

“We are partners in the European Union, allies in NATO and we have develop a significant degree of cooperation within international organisations. I would like to underline that we have both the desire and the commitment to develop our relations even further in every area of mutual interest,” the president said.

She noted that the visit was taking place at a time when the world, especially Europe, was experiencing a major crisis. “Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues with no visible sign, in the immediate future, of a ceasefire, creating huge problems. The stout opposition of the Ukrainian people to the Russian invasion is the resistance of every free person to violence and the violation of the borders of countries and demonstrates the great importance of the right of every people to self-determination,” Sakellaropoulou said.

Belgium’s Queen Mathilde arrives at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, Monday, May 2, 2022.  (Aris Messinis/Pool via AP)

“We have all been shocked recently by images of brutality in the towns around Kyiv after the withdrawal of Russian troops, especially the images from Bucha,” she added, stressing that Greece pledges to support the EU member-states that are on the front line as first-reception countries for Ukrainian refugees, as it has done already, noting that the war had created a huge humanitarian crisis.

Sakellaropoulou also noted Greece’s willingness to receive refugees from Ukraine, and was among the countries, along with Belgium, which had responded positively to a call for an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine by the international criminal court.

Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, left, attend a meeting with the Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and her partner Pavlos Kotsonis, right, at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, Monday, May 2, 2022.  (George Vitsaras/Pool via AP)

Greece also had a particular interest, she added, given that the area around Mariupol in particular has long been the home of a thriving Greek community of some 100,000 people that has now been almost completely destroyed.

In addition to the pandemic, the climate crisis and the energy supply problems, she said, Europe was facing a series of challenges that included the dispute of the sovereignty of its member-states. “With tradition, however, and with faith in European values and the respect for international law that is a hallmark of the EU, I want to believe that with the cooperation of us all these multiple crises can be addressed, she said.

King Philippe of the Belgians thanked President Sakellaropoulou for her kind words and the invitation to visit Greece, noting that it was their first visit abroad since the pandemic began. He noted that the visit was an excellent opportunity for valuable exchanges of views and best practices in a time of crisis.

“We are two similar countries and we have much to offer one another. We both have a European orientation, as well as a comparable population,” he said, noting that it was an opportunity to discuss both the past, the present and the future.

Greece’ Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, with his wife Mareva Grabowski, second left, welcome Belgium’s King Philippe, second right, and Belgium’s Queen Mathilde at Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, Monday, May 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Belgium’s King Philippe reviews the honor guard after laying a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece, Monday, May 2, 2022.  (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Belgium’s King Philippe, accompanied by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, left, reviews the honor guard after laying a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece, Monday, May 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Belgium’s King Philippe lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece, Monday, May 2, 2022.  (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Belgium’s King Philippe lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece, Monday, May 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

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