40th anniversary of Greece's accession to the European Union

40th anniversary of Greece's accession to the European Union

40th anniversary of Greece's accession to the European Union *Image Credit: David Sassoli's twitter[/caption]

It has been forty years since Greece joined the European Union (EU) in 1981, named at the time European Economic Community. 

To celebrate, an event was held at Zappeion Hall in Athens on Thursday, which was attended by a number of European leaders.

European Council President Charles Michel 

Greece and Europe helped shape each other, and "just as we cannot exist without you, you have chosen not to exist without Europe," Charles Michel said.

Michel's address focused around the words democracy and liberty, which lay at the foundations of the European Union.

Greece's membership in the EC was a return to their roots for Greeks, but Europeans also felt it was a return to their roots, as Europe was born in Greece, he said.

Michel also referred to the unique role classical Greece played in his personal education and identity and in creating Europe's collective consciousness. A drawing on his desk depicting Socrates, he said, reminds him that Greece is the cradle of thought, liberty and democracy.


European Parliament President David Sassoli

Forty years ago, Greece joined the European family, launching a new era for Europe by welcoming to its fold the historical cradle of democracy, said David Sassoli.

Highlighting Greece's contribution to the European Union, the successor to the EC, Sassoli emphasised that it had placed the idea of democracy at Europe's heart, paving the way to a democratic renaissance of the continent and adding to its stabilisation.

He also made a special reference to Greece's contribution to culture: "We cannot forget Greece's contribution to the progress of culture, and the fact that the concepts of democracy, freedom, truth, aesthetics, which run through the centuries with their transcendental dimension, led to Greece's current form and created Europe's profile."

Greece influenced the European venture rather profoundly, he underlined, adding that "looking at these 40 years since Greece's accession, we see the history of the European venture itself."


President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou

Today we celebrate a great day for our country, Katerina Sakellaropoulou underlined.

"Hellas could not be absent from this historic collective effort for the future of Europe," she said, quoting the late Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis, who was instrumental in the membership process.

Sakellaropoulou then pointed out that Greece has changed quite substantially over the last 40 years, and she underlined that the decades following the fall of the country's military dictatorship in 1974 "was the most peaceful and progressive time in modern Greek history, and coincided with the golden age of European unification."

She also noted that Greece's economy owes much to European resources.

"Europe is not turning back," she asserted. "Just as its forefathers envisioned and inspired an open society and a free market, its leaders today are called upon to place a similar emphasis on security and protection of its peoples."

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

"'Since January 1, 1981, Greece is rediscovering its place in Europe with which it is historically and culturally connected, having common interests and goals.' With these words, Constantine Karamanlis 40 years ago welcomed the accession of Greece to the then European Economic Communities, as its 10th member," Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

Greece's membership is a non-negotiable aspect of the country's identity, he underlined.

"Today, Greece is a protagonist with credibility and power. Its economy is constantly improving, while its moves on the international chessboard bring results: in the defence of European borders but also in the humanitarian contribution to tackle the immigration problem and in the peace initiatives being developed in the Mediterranean of Europe."

Addressing the citizens of Europe, Mitsotakis emphasised that everyone can positively respond to the challenge of our generation: "The next years are in our hands to become the years of recovery. With greater geopolitical influence of our Union. More cohesion in our societies. And by highlighting our common identity, which combines European with national pride. This is the bet we have to win. And we will win it."

"Greece is moving fast in the third decade of the 21st century, celebrating the 200 years of its freedom and the 40 years of its European Union journey. And she remembers that always on this turbulent and turbulent journey, always in difficulties, she turned her gaze to Europe. And Europe has always been there for Greece, just as Greece was and is here for Europe," the Greek PM concluded.

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

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.