XANTHI, Greece – "The city of Xanthi and the region of Thrace in general was and must continue to be an example of equality. A bridge of friendship, a multicultural region where people of different religions co-exist peacefully and cooperate for their common progress," stated President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Thursday, after being pronounced an honorary citizen of Xanthi.
"Prejudices have never been helpful nor can they help now that the contemporary common challenges, such as epidemics, the migration and refugee issue or climate change, transcend borders and continents. Challenges that so huge that they can only be faced through international cooperation on a scientific, political, social and economic level, as was clearly shown during the pandemic," Sakellaropoulou said.
The mayor of Xanthi Emmanouil Tsepelis presented her with the Golden Medal of the city and Sakellaropoulou, who comes from Xanthi, responded by saying: "It is a great joy and honour that I am here with you today in Xanthi. You all know of my love for Thrace and my special bonds with this place. I have roots here and have experienced the warmth of the Thracian people, I have friends here and memories."
She also referred to the pandemic, underlining that it has disrupted everyone's lives and had also overturned her own plans to visit the region sooner. "At no other time in contemporary world history have we mourned so many lives lost in a period of peace and seen such a major restriction of human activities… In comparison with other countries, our country faced the virus with exceptional success and headed off its incursion," she said and congratulated the people of Thrace, both Christians and Muslims, for both their stance in dealing with the pandemic and for their coolheadedness and sobriety during the humanitarian crisis provoked by Turkey's aggressive stance at the borders in Evros.
Speaking about the region of Thrace, she said that its geographic location and its position near the border are its major advantages. If they are exploited correctly then Thrace can regain the key role it played for centuries as a bridge and way-station where important land and sea routes intersect, she said.
After the ceremony, President Sakellaropoulou laid a wreath at the Iroo.
Deputy Interior Minister for Macedonia and Thrace Theodoros Karaoglou represented the government at the events.