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Foreign Minister Lambrinidis visits Mount Athos, Reply

Monday, 10 October 2011

S. LAMBRINIDIS: Your very reverend holy Primate, reverend Fathers, I feel the need to express to you my warmest thanks and profound gratitude for your moving presence at and participation in my reception, and I ask that you allow me, a humble pilgrim to this holy land and place, to ask for your blessing.

Your very reverend holy Primate, you stressed the truly historic and highly symbolic context within which my visit is taking place, as we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Father’s becoming Patriarch – and he is here on Mount Athos. This moment is very important and poignant for me, personally, as well.

But I want to inform you that my love for and interest in this holy land will also be expressed in a visit separate from the one taking place now. It will be a visit during which we will have the opportunity to discuss in detail all the issues pertaining to our cooperation.

Naturally, I want to convey the respects and love of the Prime Minister. He will be visiting you himself soon, but allow me to do so. After all, you are well aware of how deep in his heart he holds Mount Athos.

You, Holy Fathers, who comprise the collective Administrative Authority and the most official representation of the population of Mount Athos, are aware of the difficult state of affairs in our homeland.

The course of the Athos monastic state through the centuries has shown to the whole world, but first and foremost to the collective conscience of the nation, the contribution, participation, solidarity and, above all, the willingness of the Holy Fathers to make whatever sacrifice during the difficult moments Greece has gone through at various times.

Today, the government and the Prime Minister personally, as well as I myself, being the member of the government responsible for Mount Athos, are aware and proud of the fact that Greece includes the Mount Athos peninsula.

We are aware of the problems and needs of the Athos community. We will be at your side. I, personally, will be at your side and do whatever is in my power. We will do whatever is in our power and stand by you always.

I thank you and ask for your blessings.