Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou referred to the difficult period that the people of Kastellorizo are going through due to Turkish provocations in the East Mediterranean.
“Kastellorizo is a precious part of our homeland and is the place that gathers the meaning of patriotism, a place that has kept its Hellenism for centuries with unparalleled stubbornness and perseverance,” Sakellaropoulou said during the ceremony of becoming an honorary citizen of the island during its celebrations for the 77th anniversary of its liberation during World War II.
“We are here to celebrate today’s anniversary of the liberation of the island and to assure that the inhabitants of the island will never feel alone and helpless,” said the Greek President, noting that she knows the problems of the island, but also the solutions that have been launched.
Sakellaropoulou also noted in her speech: “The escalation of the aggressive rhetoric by the Turkish leadership raises barriers between peoples, creates suspicion and hostility, and shakes the ties between them. And I know that your patriotism is not based on rivalry with your neighbor. It is based on national self-confidence, on the pride for the long history of the island, on the memory of thousand years of struggles and sacrifices.”
Referring to her visit to Kastellorizo, the president stated: “I am glad to be in historic Megisti (Sakellaropoulou), a place of long history and inseparable Hellenism. I’m glad to be in Kastellorizo and I see our flag waving everywhere, rising proudly, even painted on the rock. I am glad to meet such beauty, such optimism, such a mindset – the same mindset that helped your ancestors keep their religion and language intact during the years of Ottoman rule and supported them in the multiple trials that the island suffered during the twentieth century… Kastellorizo is a valuable part of the homeland. It is not just top strategic importance for shaping and claiming the rights of Greece. It has even greater moral significance. It is the place that condenses the concept of patriotism, in its highest expression. The place that remained Hellenic, in defiance of any intruder. A place anchored at the eastern end of the Greek archipelago, which kept its culture, customs and traditions for 5,000 years. A place where its people, decimated by wars but always fighting, ordered to life and not to death, overcame the catastrophe, rebuilt their burned houses, worked, fought, resurrected the island, determined to shoulder their future. With inexhaustible stubbornness and perseverance.”
Speaking about the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Kastelorizo , Sakellaropoulou continued her inspiring speech by saying: “77 years have passed since the naval destroyer Admiral Koundouriotis arrived at port, while the war was still raging all over Europe. It was the first piece of Greek land to be liberated. Heavy in history, it may have kept the name given to him during the reign of the Knights of St. John, but the ancient name: Megisti, also fits perfectly. Because, as a nice verse by Odysseus Elytis says, “things obey their names. Kastellorizo, despite its small size, was and remains great, because its people, with their struggles and sacrifices, with their perseverance, endurance and love for their place, made it a high symbol of patriotism.”
Concluding her speech, Skellaropoulou said: “We are here to honor this place and to assure you that you will never feel cut off from the body of the homeland, never isolated and helpless. We are always close to you, drawing on your example, inspired by your daily struggle to keep alive a cradle of Hellenism on a journey through centuries. That is why it is a great honor for me, that from today, I am also considered a citizen of Kastellorizo. One of you, now a member of your community, I firmly believe that with national solidarity and unity we will weaken any challenge and repel any intrusion.”
At the ceremony, the mayor of Kastellorizo, George Sampsakos, pointed out that the presence of the President on the island is a great honor, which is why the municipal council unanimously decided to declare her an honorary citizen.