French Defense Minister Florence Parly, speaking on behalf of President Emmanuel Macron, expressed her country’s admiration for the Greek Revolution of 1821.
“Every trip to Greece is a trip to our roots,” she said during the official state dinner hosted by the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Mansion.
Parly also quoted the late former French President Francois Mitterrand, and she said that “all our reference point are here, in this land, in this light and in these colours”.
People in France and across the world feel great enthusiasm when they think of Greece’s great struggle for freedom, she noted, and for standing up to oppression and spoke of “a great love uniting the two peoples for 200 years.”
Being a Philhellene means being a friend of freedom, of justice and of solidarity, she concluded.
The state dinner was attended by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis, Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Russian Federation Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, and the President of the Greece 2021 committee Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and her spouse Theodoros Aggelopoulos.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron described the struggles of the Greeks as a source of inspiration for Europe and France, in an interview aired by state-run broadcaster ERT on Wednesday night.
Macron was apologetic that he could not attend the celebrations in Athens with his wife Brigitte, due to covid-19 restrictions in France.
However, he sent a “message of real friendship and respect for all the Greek people, the country, the nation and, of course, the authorities, the President, the Prime Minister. There is an inseparable link between Greece and Europe, which makes us feel like a culture, the heritage in a way of ancient Greece and Greece in the rest of Europe. We will get back to that if you want. But in modern and contemporary history there is an even stronger link, that of the commitment to freedom, to European adventure.”
“200 years ago, Greece inspired Europe, especially France. It inspires today because we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of independence and since the beginning of this year, the 40th anniversary of EU membership. That is, the 40th anniversary also of a moment of freedom, openness and of course a common destiny. Greece is at the forefront of European freedom, this struggle for culture… We will do everything we can with the Prime Minister Mitsotakis to work and be able to open your wonderful country to our young people, our students, archaeologists, academics and tourists, but Greece inspires today as it did in the past because there is this unique bond,” the French president added.
Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Macron stressed that the European Commission must help to have a common roadmap. “The opening must be coordinated. We must have the same rules to say under what conditions we will reopen how trade and tourism will reopen. Hence the idea of the certificate… Those who prove that they have been vaccinated can come and take a vacation in Greece. That yes. So we have to coordinate things with clear rules and a spirit of cooperation so that we can gradually reopen,” he said.