1981-2021: The European Commission releases celebratory video on the 40th anniversary of Greece's accession to the EU

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Through a moving video, filled with a collage of short clips and images, the European Commission summarised in two minutes the forty-year history of Greece as a member of the European Union.

The video titled '1981-2021: The History of Greece in the years of Europe – #40GreeceEU'', was posted on Twitter by the European Commission Office in Athens on May 7th, with the caption “40 Years – We are Stronger”, and it includes several of the most important moments of Greece’s time within the EU.

Some of the country’s most prominent political figures, athletes, artists and other famous celebrities are the protagonists of the video, which was shared over 500 times across numerous social media platforms in Greece and abroad.

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Greek Prime Minister, Konstantinos Karamanlis, signs the Treaty of the Accession of Greece to the then EEC (1981) at Zappeion Megaron, in Athens. Photo by iEfimerida.

The video begins with the historic political sermon by Greece’s then Prime Minister, Konstantinos Karamanlis, who signed the Act of Accession at the Zappeion Megaron of Athens, in May 1979. The Greek Parliament ratified the accession of Greece to the European Communities on June 28, 1979, while the full accession and official membership of Greece came two years later, on January 1, 1981.

The video continues with some important milestones for Greece, such as the 1987 EuroBasket win and gold medal, the first free Greek private television channels in 1989, former Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, who is seen withdrawing the first Euros from an ATM in Greece, after the country’s accession to the Eurozone in the beginning of 2002, as well as appearances by one of Greece’s biggest composers and musicians, Manos Hatzidakis, actress and Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri, and internationally successful Greek filmmaker and movie producer, Theodoros Angelopoulos.

Browsing through Greece’s “album of history” in the EU, the video also presents clips from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens with gold medallist Pyrros Dimas, the conquest of the UEFA European Championship in the same year by the Greek National football team, the Eurovision Song Contest win of Greece with singer Elena Paparizou in 2005, the induction of Nick Galis at the Basketball Hall of Fame, the first Greek woman President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, award winning film director, Giorgos Lanthimos, and NBA MVP superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo.



Even though Greece joined the EU in 1981, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986, the journey between the Hellenic Republic and the EU truly started in 1959, when the country first applied for a membership with the newly established EEC, which led to an Association Agreement signed in June 1961. However, due to the military coup in Greece in 1967 (Greek Junta) the agreement was re-activated in 1974, after the restoration of democracy in the country.

Finally, on the 12th of June 1975, Greece officially submitted its application to the EEC for full accession, in an effort to stabilise its democratic institutions within the current political system, as well as reinforce its economic development and enhance its geopolitical position.

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The Signing Ceremony of the Treaty of Accession of Greece in the EU, at the Zappeion Megaron in Athens. Photo by EC - Audiovisual Service, European Communities, 1979

“Membership of the United Europe changed everything for Greece, putting it forever at the forefront of European integration. But it also validated the European project with Greece’s cultural and historical identity.”

“2021 is the bicentenary of the modern Greek state, and the Greeks have every right to be proud and confident, as they celebrate two centuries of freedom. Of course, it is also the 40th anniversary of Greece’s accession to the European Community, another key historical achievement, perhaps the most significant since the Rebirth of the Nation,” stated Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission Promoting the Greek European Way of Life.

“In this emblematic year of historic milestones and the ongoing pandemic crisis, European Greece has shown itself to be stronger, more coherent and more creative than before,” Mr. Schinas highlighted.

The official logos of the last three Greek EU Presidencies (1994, 2003 and 2014)
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The illumination of the Hellenic Parliament’s facade with the logo of the 40-year anniversary of Greece’s EU membership. Photo by Permanent Representation of the EC Website

Additionally, the Delegation of the European Commission in Greece, in collaboration with ELTA (Hellenic Post), created and presented a special anniversary stamp for the 40 years since Greece's accession to the European Union.

The stamp is part of a series of anniversary actions of the European Commission Delegation to Greece, which aims to celebrate this important anniversary, in coordination with the Greek Parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the European Parliament in Greece.

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