Today Greece is celebrating 46 years of unimpeded democracy, the longest period of normality in its recent history. More mature than ever, it has been taught by its experiences. It draws strength from its challenges and builds on the historic choice it made a year ago: To boldly walk the path of truth, national unity and social cohesion.
If July 24, 1974, meant the transition of the country from the winter of dictatorship to the spring of Parliamentarianism, July 24, 2020 underscores its decision to be fruitfully connected to the values of that change.
But at the same time seals its own new era, deepening the democratic acquis without populism; serving the rule of law without division; and claiming modernisation without compromise to its care for the citizen.
This year’s anniversary finds the entire planet besieged by the pandemic, and global economy in turmoil; with troublemakers, like Turkey, threatening peace in the Eastern Mediterranean, challenging the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus, but also offending 21st century civilization, with acts such as converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
What is transpiring in Istanbul on this day is not a manifestation of strength but rather evidence of weakness. It certainly lacks the power to cast a shadow over the radiance of a World Heritage monument, but tarnishes universal values. This is why its call for universal condemnation.
Especially for us, Greek Orthodox Christians, Hagia Sophia is today, more than ever, in our soul. This is where our heart beats. Turning grief into strength, equanimity, and unity. Because Hagia Sophia exists precisely to unite us all and prompt us to always look high. This is how it will always be.
Over the past year, we Greeks have demonstrated that we can defend our borders, which are also European borders; that we know how to overcome healthcare challenges, like the first wave of the Coronavirus, with responsibility and discipline. And have the courage, at the same time, to shield our economy and society, even in difficult times. All of this is an asset of national power.
That is how we have succeeded in receiving aid of over EUR 70 billion from the European Recovery Fund and the European budget for our country. We are obtaining our fair share as a country, which is becoming again a leading player in Europe; a country with powerful allies, aspiring to be a model of Development for All.
So this year we are celebrating the Day of Democracy stronger and more confident. Equipped with experiences that turn today’s anniversary into a national pledge for the future. For an independent, proud and secure country. And a society that thrives and prospers.
Forty-six years later, we have kept the message of the Political Changeover alive, and are transforming it into an effort that gradually makes the hopes of decades come true: For Greek to advance united, inside and outside our country’s borders. For Democracy to blossom everywhere in our land. And for our economy to increasingly bear fruit for the benefit of every citizen.
Greeks deserve this Greece. We deserve it, and we will have it. Long live our Democracy!