Mitsotakis: Greece has proved that it can defend its borders, which are Europe’s borders

“Greece today celebrates 46 years of an unobstructed democratic course, the longest period of normal functioning in our recent history. More mature than ever, it is learning from its experiences, it is drawing from its difficulties and daily building the historic choice it made a year ago: to walk boldly on the path of truth, national unity and social cohesion,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday, in a message for the 46th anniversary since democracy was restored in Greece after the fall of a seven-year military dictatorship.

“If July 24, 1974 marks the country’s transition from the winter of dictatorship to the spring of parliamentarianism, then July 24, 2020 states its decision to connect in a fertile way with the values of this change, but at the same time to put its stamp on its own, new era. Deepening the democratic gains without populism, serving the state of law without division and striving for modernisation without discounts in the care of the citizens.”

The prime minister noted this year’s anniversary finds the world besieged by a pandemic and the international economy in turmoil. “With troublemakers, such as Turkey, threatening peace in the Eastern Mediterranean and disputing the sovereign rights of Greece and Turkey, but also offending 21st-century culture with acts such as the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque,” he added.

The prime minister stressed that the events in Istanbul on Friday were not a display of strength but a proof of weakness, which were unable to overshadow the magnificence of a world heritage monument but cast a stain on universal values and therefore demanded universal condemnation.

“Especially for us Orthodox Christian Greeks, Hagia Sophia is today more than ever…where our heart beats. Converting sorrow into strength, calmness and unity, because Hagia Sophia exists precisely because it unites us all, calling on us to only look up,” he said.

The prime minister noted that in the last year, the Greeks have proved that they are able to defend their borders, which are also the European borders, and that with responsibility and discipline they were able to overcome the health challenges posed by the first wave of Covid-19, while defending society and the economy.

In this way, he added, Greece would now get more than 70 billion euros in assistance from the European Recovery Fund and the European budget, get its share “as a country that is once again becoming a protagonist in Europe, a country with strong allies that aims to become a growth model for all.”

Concluding, Mitsotakis noted that Greece was celebrating the anniversary of democracy’s return stronger and more certain, armed with experiences that made the anniversary a national wager for the future.