Greek leaders send message of resilience against coronavirus on anniversary of independence war

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent a message of resilience and solidarity in the struggle against the novel coronavirus epidemic, as Greece marked on Wednesday the anniversary of the start of the 1821 Greek War of Independence.

Commemoration events for the Greek revolution which ended four centuries of Ottoman rule in the country have been curtailed this year. There were no parades, as a two-week lockdown was launched on Monday to control the virus’s further spread.

The two leaders laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Greek parliament, while flights of Armed Forces aircraft and helicopters flashed above the square.

In televised messages to Greeks, they called for unity and determination, as Greece has registered 20 deaths and 743 confirmed infection cases to date.

“This year’s anniversary finds our country facing an unprecedented threat which has radically changed our daily life. I understand there is fear, for our lives and health as well as for the economic repercussions of the crisis. We will not allow this to prevail,” Sakellaropoulou said in her address which was broadcast on national broadcaster ERT on Tuesday evening.

“March 25th teaches us that in order for a national effort to succeed, ‘We’ must come before ‘I’. Personal responsibility, collaboration and solidarity are at the heart of the new patriotism that we need,” she stressed, praising today’s heroes, such as doctors and nurses who save lives.

“The faster the small and big battles against the coronavirus are won, the faster the war will be won. We have and will have losses. And our economy will suffer. But it is our duty to reduce pain to a minimum,” Mitsotakis said on his part in a message released by his office on Wednesday.

“My compatriots, our struggle today is one: to keep Greece strong and Greeks healthy. The pandemic will cost us. But we will emerge winners and more mature, as steeled as ever to move the country forward,” he stressed, outlining a few elements of the response of the Greek state and Greek people to the new challenge so far.

“In the midst of the crisis our structures are being modernized. Technology travels everywhere, changing the way we work, but also reducing bureaucracy. Volunteering is taking root. We ourselves are now operating more collectively and disciplined,” the Greek prime minister said.