COMMENT

The new president’s touching and substantive first message

TOM ELLIS

With a new president of the Republic come new mores and a new approach. It is not just that Greece’s new president is a woman – a first for Greece, and something that quite rightly has been widely talked about.

The new president has shown, right from the start – and more difficult circumstances in which to begin her term could hardly be envisaged – that she will insist on direct communication with her fellow citizens, the people whose democratically elected representatives overwhelmingly voted for her to take the highest office in the land, an office above partisanship.

She will express her opinion, share her thoughts and feelings, not only through the usual institutional channels, but also through social media. She will address society in order to provide guidance, in the deepest human sense of the term.

“The only way to protect our loved ones and our fellow citizens is to stay away from them,” she wrote on Facebook. “We faithfully follow, both collectively and as individuals, the directives of the scientists and the state authorities,” she noted, adding that she herself is following them, to the degree that her commitments as president allow.

With a concise post rich in messages, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who was sworn in for a five-year term Friday, revealed her intent to be approachable to all. ‘The restrictions imposed on us may be suffocating to our Greek temperament. But we can, and must, conform. We have proven in other difficult times in our history that when responsibility and solidarity prevail, we can overcome seemingly insurmountable problems. We may not come through unscathed, but certainly stronger. I stand by your side.”

In a direct, warm and also self-possessed manner, the president asked all to show discipline, prudence, composure and optimism.

She said all that needed to be said at this difficult time, and more. She stands by us, asking us “to isolate ourselves, without feeling lonely.”

Everyone is being called upon to do the right thing, with a sense of purpose and responsibility for themselves and society. In other words, to do their duty. In these first difficult days in her new role, the new president is doing her part.

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