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Sakellaropoulou: The Greek War for Independence Reflected Universal Ideas

Αssociated Press

In this photo provided by the Greek President s office, Greece s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou attends an award ceremony of Louvre Museum Director Jean-Luc Martinez at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (Theodore Manolopoulos/Presidency of Hellenic Republic via AP)

ATHENS -- President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou welcomed foreign leaders to the Presidential Mansion for a state dinner celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution (1821), on Wednesday evening.

Addressing representatives of Cyprus, Britain, Russia, and France, the Greek president spoke of long ties between Greece and their countries from the very birth of the modern Greek state.

As she also noted, the contribution of these great powers of that era was crucial, while the philhellenic movement provided continuous tangible and intangible support. At the same time, the Greeks' revolt against the Ottoman Empire deeply influenced public opinion in Europe and the United States. "A philhellenic consciousness was formed that saw in the liberation of our country a major geopolitical and statehood event," she said.

All social classes in Greece united before a common purpose, with self-renunciation and self-sacrifice, while along with Greeks were Cypriots as well who either fought and died with the Greeks or funded their revolution, Sakellaropoulou said. Greeks were influenced by the American and French revolutions to fight not simply for their liberty but for a state that was democratic and liberal, she added.

Within a short time after the declaration of war, the president said, Greeks managed to establish a series of constitutions, democratic authority and representation, with the evolving constitutions reflecting "a strong imprint of the Enlightenment." But, she pointed out, the heritage of 1821 is not simply Greek - it bears the universality of ideas and values of its era.

Today, the Greek president noted, Greece returns to that birthright in the midst of challenges like the pandemic, climate change and dialog between civilizations. Although tensions in the public sphere run high, politics serve social needs and the public interest. "Our democracy cannot shrink under current events," she noted, as basic values and principles enshrined in constitutional documents also serve to build relations between nations. It is to these common values that "we have the great joy of honoring together, today," Sakellaropoulou concluded.

Sakellaropoulou's speech was followed by brief addresses of the visiting officials.