My fellow Greeks,
Today the Nation is celebrating; two hundred years since the historic Revolution of 1821, it ruminates and moves forward, drawing inspiration from its ancestors while firmly holding the torch of progress, which is passed from one generation to the next.
Two centuries ago, a handful of determined fighters, both within and without Greece, raised the flag of independence. They set in motion a process whose outcome they could not have fathomed. With the aid of their allies, they fought heroically and won their freedom.
Picking up the “thread” from ancient and byzantine times, they set the foundations for the transformation of a province of the Ottoman Empire into an independent, organised state. A state that, as time passed, became bigger in all respects: in terms of territory, in terms of its Democracy, in terms of its international profile. Two hundred years later, Greece is now a modern European country, with power and prestige throughout the world.
While walking this path, we had moments of triumph and anguish. There were wise decisions, as well as big mistakes. Yet, in all the great trials that humanity endured, our country always stood on the right side of History.
This gives us the strength to look at the past straight in the eyes. To feel proud of the big leaps that the Nation has taken. But also to learn from the missed opportunities, so that we can create new ones for the days to come. Turning yesterday’s experience into fuel for the path towards the future.
A glimpse at the pages of the History can only lead us to one conclusion: that Greeks buckled when they were divided, while they excelled when united. Therefore, we do not forget the rivalries that appeared, even during the 1821 uprising; the national division; the disastrous civil war; nor the pitfalls of recent demagogy.
This is why we choose, as a beacon, the unity displayed during the Balkan Wars. The heroic struggle of 1940 and the Resistance. Our unity against the dictatorship and working together in the years of growth and development. Our integration into the European family and building the sturdiest Democracy we have ever had.
We embrace this national celebration with a reflection born of pride. Because the heroes of 1821 found their worthy acolytes in politics and the economy, but also in the field of careful deliberation, in science, in art and in sports.
But, above all, the history of the independent state is the history of its people. All those who fell and found the strength to get back on their feet in order to bequeath a better future to their children. All those who espoused the bold movements of progress, while also keeping traditions alive. All those who worked hard and prospered. The entire country prospered alongside them. All those who cried in front of our white and blue flag, while listening to the verses of our national anthem. To all of them, Greece pays a tribute of gratitude.
My fellow citizens,
This year March 25 is unique. But also special, as it finds us waging the final battle against the pandemic. The difficulties are many, but victory is now visible. Besides, our national vaccination campaign is named after the greek word for freedom, “Eleftheria”.
Our country comes out of this adventure stronger. With its society united, a more resilient economy and a more efficient state. And with strong bonds of trust between the state and the citizens.
This was highlighted in the multiple fronts we have dealt with simultaneously: when we defended our frontiers in Evros and the Aegean Sea. When we shielded public health and social prosperity. But also when we faced challenges from our neighbours.
At the dawn of the third century of liberty, Greeks keep their heads high, just like their ancestors raised their heads bravely. Today, the challenges are different but our determination remains the same. The challenge for our generation is, 200 years after the “Revolution of the National Rebirth,” to turn it into a “Revolution of the National Reinvigoration.” With Greece being a protagonist again.
Besides, the Greek word for Freedom, “Eleftheria”, starts with an “E”. Just like the Greek words for Revolution, “Epanastasi” and Hope “Elpida”. These are the components of the “beautiful and strange homeland” that Elytis wrote about. The homeland of the cunning Odysseus, who achieved through wit more than his means could provide. The homeland of our national poet, where “there is light everywhere”.
We are celebrating today the history of this land, with pride and humbleness. Nothing we have gained so far was a given. This is why we are moving forward armed with the new patriotism of responsibility. With our flag waving with national confidence and optimism.
I wish a happy anniversary to our beloved Greece and to Greeks all over the world!