The President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, was declared an honorary citizen of the municipality of West Lesvos on Monday.
Receiving the honorary distinction, the President stated that the residents of the island have "gone through a lot and contributed a lot," adding that "the energy and resilience of the island when facing the migration and refugee crisis shows a dynamic and progressive society, with great reserves of solidarity and empathy."
She also stressed the need to relocate asylum-seekers to mainland Greece in a bid to decongest the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp.
"I want to assure you that you are not alone. I promise you, as an honorary citizen of western Lesvos, I will try to reciprocate your generosity. I will stand by you so that the island retains its character and its way of life, treads the path of innovation and progress, always in tune with the rhythm of the wind, always looking for 'a better light'," Sakellaropoulou said.
The Greek President urged the European Union to contribute to Greek efforts to safeguard the country’s maritime borders which, she stressed, “are also European borders.”
She also spoke of her ties to her "favourite" island through visits at a young age, and as the home of a beloved friend who passed away. "I come back often, always with the feeling of the first time. I am excited because it is the homeland of a dear friend who is no longer with us, Professor Stavros Tsakyrakis, and today's distinction makes me feel even deeper the spiritual ties that connected me with him."
On his part, the mayor of West Lesvos, General Verros, noted that they "still accept the bulk of people who want a better tomorrow from 80 countries around the world. But we are exhausted, and we no longer have reserves. It is absolutely necessary, fair and ethical for these reserves to be replenished."
He also made a special reference to the fact that Sakellaropoulou is the first female President of Greece and what this means: "A Greece of equal possibilities and opportunities for the Greek woman who dares and achieves goals and results in the top positions of our democracy. She has an education, a genuine sense of homeland, faith in the constitution and in democratic institutions, an unwavering administration of justice, sensitivities, aesthetic qualities and humanity."