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Europe Day message from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias (9 May 2020)

Saturday, 09 May 2020

Today's 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, which set in motion the most ambitious and successful plan for peace, cooperation and Democracy in modern history, stands out from all previous anniversaries.

On our continent and throughout the world, we are experiencing the impact of Covid-19. A crisis of historic dimensions that will, to a significant extent, shape all aspects of our global geopolitical, social and economic reality. A crisis that will be yet another difficult test for our common European endeavour, but also an opportunity to reflect on how we want to define the community of values that we comprise.

Today, after 70 years of European integration and 39 years after our accession to the European communities, Greece and the Greek people embody and promote the idea of a Europe of principles and values in its political and social dimensions. Through painful sacrifices and unfaltering determination, our country emerged from its decade-long crisis and regained its position at the core of Europe.

Greece is now in a position to contribute actively to the Union’s effort to create a new political narrative. A new proposal for the Europe of growth, employment and social achievements – for a Europe with prospects for its citizens and an example for its partners.

The European perspective of the Western Balkans remains the best guarantee of stability, prosperity and consolidation of democratic institutions in our immediate neighbourhood. European integration is much more than a space of free movement of people, goods and capital. It is an outlook on a common future based on shared values. The Thessaloniki Agenda remains relevant, and as the oldest EU member in the Balkans, we continue to work towards its implementation.

But in spite of significant achievements, challenges remain. The European Union still has much to do if it wants to meet the expectations of its peoples.

First, internally, where it will be called upon to respond to the coming economic crisis. All of our countries, and especially the most powerful ones in this community of values, have to function as members of a family. They must contribute boldly to our response to the economic repercussions of the crisis, guided by our common European destiny.

But also in its wider neighbourhood.

The protracted and new crises in Europe’s eastern and southern neighbourhoods require vigilance and resolve. Europe must rise to the very complex circumstances that characterize our globalized world. Today, more than everbefore, we need a unified and strong European voice on the regional and global stage.

This year, Europe Day virtually coincides with Greece’s assumption of the six-month Chairmanship of our continent’s oldest political organization: the Council of Europe. The Hellenic Chairmanship will focus on the functional coexistence of our democratic way of life with the restrictions on fundamental freedoms that we are all experiencing. Our responses to these unprecedented issues are founded on the fundamental values of European political culture – values that we are being called upon to promote convincingly.

As citizens of Europe, it is our duty today to reflect on all that unites us.
To ignore the Sirens of populism.
To promote our common European values – especially solidarity, Democracy, pluralism and dialogue.

Using everything that unites us, we must prove that the vision of those who launched our European endeavour continues to inspire and thrive.