Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis gave a historic address to a joint session of the US Congress on Tuesday, the first ever by a Greek leader, and only one of a handful delivered at the Capitol by a foreign head of state or government.
"There is no greater honor for an elected leader of Greece, where democracy was born, to address the representatives of people who have strongly defended democratic ideals since the founding of their country, Mitsotakis told assembled members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate , with US Vice-President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi looking on. The latter issued the official invitation
"Our two countries always found themselves on the right side of history," Mitsotakis said, using the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) as a milestone. Last year marked the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution, albeit the events in Washington were postponed for year due to the pandemic.
Speaking of “special ties between the two nations during an era when our values are being tested,” the Greek prime minister said, drawing a parallel with Greece's independence struggle with the war in Ukraine, where soldiers in Mariupol defended their city like the fighters of Messolonghi in 1826.
The liberal democrat Greek premier referred directly to Russian aggression, the plundering of the Parthenon Marbles and even to NBA all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo, while indirectly but repeatedly referring - without using its name - to Turkish belligerence, attempted revisionism and saber-rattling in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.
He highlighted democratic values, as NATO confronts Russian aggression in Ukraine. "Our shared values are once again being tested… our shared belief in freedom over tyranny, in democracy over authoritarianism, in the fundamental importance of respect for the rule of law over war and anarchy."
At the same time, he underlined that Greece and the Greek people hold no animosity towards the Russian people, with whom they share historical ties and faith. "But we can not be indifferent to a struggle that reminds us so much of our own… We stand by Ukraine against Putin's aggression… Historical revisionism and open acts of aggression that violate international law will not be tolerated," Mitsotakis said.
He then called on US lawmakers not to forget "the open wound that has caused Hellenism unending pain: the invasion and subsequent division of Cyprus." increased by 25% compared to 2020.
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