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FM Droutsas’ speech at the opening of the Ministry’s exhibit marking the 190th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen MPs,

Ladies and Gentlemen Ambassadors,

Dear Associates,

On 25 March, the day after tomorrow, will see the main celebrations of the 190th anniversary of the beginning of the Greek revolution.

Our Ministry is participating in this Greece-wide celebration with the presentation of an exhibit of historical documents and works of art relating to that era.

This is yet another exhibition from the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic and Historical Archive Department, and I would like to thank Ms. Tomai and her associates for this. And it is a particular pleasure and honor to be here to inaugurate this exhibition.

For most of us here, this is not the first time we have come together to mark this occasion. Neither is it the first time our Ministry has opened its doors to the general public and host an exhibition linked with a major anniversary in Greek history.

I remind you, for example, of the two most recent exhibitions, one marking 2,500 years since the Battle of Marathon, as well as the photo exhibit on Greece’s liberation at the end of World War II.

We want events like this to become an institution. And of all the reasons I could enumerate for this, allow me – given the nature of today’s occasion – to give you just one.

We want the Foreign Ministry to be an open society. Because the Ministry’s day-to-day operation is in reality an ongoing effort for our society, even if that is not always so apparent.

This applies to every aspect of our activities, from exercising a responsible foreign polity that safeguards our country’s interests at all times and everywhere, to providing consular services and assistance to fellow citizens in need.

In recent weeks, the Foreign Ministry has been called upon to handle difficult situations. In Egypt, in Libya and in Japan, Foreign Ministry personnel have been called upon to confront the personal anxieties of our fellow citizens and their relatives in a professional and sensitive manner.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank them once again.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Revolution of 1821 was an event of supreme importance in the development of our homeland. But it was also an event of vital international importance at that time.

It shook the conservative establishments that ruled the peoples of continental Europe and moved progressive spirits throughout the world, inspiring the ideal of freedom for all the peoples of the Balkans.

In this international environment, the Greeks – without any recognized state, without coordinated institutions – were called upon to manage the international affairs of the nation that had risen up.

The Philhellenes and Diaspora Greeks stood by them and the fighters of the Revolution. All together, they struggled to promote the rights of the Greeks carrying out the revolution; to influence foreign power centers and create international alliances. And at the critical moment, their work proved to be the salvation of the future of the Revolution.

Naturally, the international environment is not the same for Greece today. And it would perhaps not be appropriate to attempt comparisons with the sacrifices our forbears made at that time. But our dedication to the homeland remains as strong.

And the Foreign Ministry’s personnel are well aware of this and carry out their duties conscientiously at all of Greece’s Diplomatic and Consular Missions around the world.

I wholeheartedly wish them and their families, and all of you here today, many happy returns.