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Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis’ address at the celebration for the 40 years of Greece – EU and the Conference on the Future of Europe: Main points (Zappeion, Athens 27.05.2021)
With the inspirational slogans "40 years of Greece – EU; stronger together" and "The future is in your hands" a major ceremonial event was held tonight at the emblematic building of Zappeion Megaron, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Greece’s accession to the European Communities, as well as the formal launch of the national dialogue in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
The event was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs for European Affairs, Mr. Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, with the support of the Representation of the European Commission and the European Parliament Liaison Office in Greece, in the presence of H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou. The keynote speakers were the Prime Minister Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the President of the European Parliament Mr. David Sassoli, the President of the European Council Mr. Charles Michel and the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs. Videotaped messages were addressed by the President-in-Office of the Council of the EU and Prime Minister of Portugal, Mr. Antonio Costa, and the President of the European Commission, Ms. Ursula von der Leyen.
"Greece and Europe move forward together", was the message conveyed by the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, in his opening address.
At the beginning of his speech, he referred to our country’s accession in the European Communities which was, as he said, the result of the perseverance and vision of a genuine European, Konstantinos Karamanlis. Since then, through a multifaceted relationship of 40 years, Greece has matured in parallel with the Union and within it, and has also left its mark on important European policies.
"We, Greeks love and believe in the deeper essence of Europe beyond its Treaties and the bureaucracy of procedures. We know what EU represents for its citizens. "And we are proud of everything that constitutes the European way of life."
The Alternate Minister then noted that despite the crises it faced, Europe endured and disproved those who predicted its disintegration. Europe displayed a bold and innovative spirit during the pandemic, undertaking significant initiatives, he said, adding that this should be the proper response to the major challenges of our times. “The Europe of our dreams and aspirations effectively protects its most vulnerable citizens and creates the conditions for everyone to have equal opportunities in health, education, employment and social mobility. This is the Europe that leaves no one behind. We have to meet the challenges of the new era”, he pointedly said.
On the occasion of the launching of the national dialogue in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Mr. Varvitsiotis stressed that we must respond to the anguish of young people who wish to live in a strong Europe that provides choices, growth and perspective, saying that “the New Generation is the hope of Greece and Europe”.
The Alternate Minister invited all Greek citizens to participate in the dialogue through the digital democratic platform. He welcomed the representatives of Civil Society who attended with physical presence or online. “With their presence here, we send a message that now is the time for their voice to be heard”, he said emphatically, referring to the teacher from the small island of Arkoi and the representatives of productive sectors, commerce, tourism and shipping. He also referred to the presence of people that produce, trade unionists, representatives of agricultural associations, immigrants that have chosen to live in our country, to the “champions of athletics, but also champions of courage, Olympic and Paralympic winners and alongside them, people with Disabilities, the champions in life”.
Mr. Varvitsiotis saluted the members of the academia, students and schoolchildren who represent the future, the representatives of the Jewish community, the Muslim minority and also the representatives of the LGBTQ+ community that fights for equality. He spoke about all those who are risking their lives to save their fellow citizens in emergencies, care workers who fought tirelessly against the pandemic, people who contribute to society, show real solidarity and inspire by their example.
Mr. Varvitsiotis concluded his speech by wishing: “Happy anniversary European Greece! Happy anniversary Greek Europe!”