Foreign leaders and dignitaries have arrived in Athens as Greece celebrates the bicentennial of the start of the Greek War of Independence on Thursday. Dignitaries include the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, French Defense Minister Florence Parly and Russian Federation Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who represent the three countries that played a decisive role in the victory against the Ottoman Turks that led to the emergence of the modern Greek state.
In a videotaped message, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou noted that “two centuries after the Revolution, the national heritage of 1821 remains strong.” “The basic values and principles of our Constitution are not theoretical declarations, nor exercises on paper. They have been transformed into our constitutional and democratic experience,” she said.
In a letter to Sakellaropoulou, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country attaches “great importance to relations with Greece, which are based on long-standing friendship as well as cultural and spiritual proximity.”
According to reports, recorded messages from the presidents of the US and France, Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, are expected to be heard Thursday before the grand parade in central Athens which is being held under tight security. Emmanuel Macron had initially accepted the invitation to attend the celebrations, but his trip was eventually canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak in France.
Celebrations got under way Wednesday night with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis welcoming Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to the newly refurbished National Gallery.
As part of the wider celebrations, internationally acclaimed soprano Anastasia Zannis will perform the Greek national anthem on the Acropolis at 8 a.m. Thursday, accompanied by the Hellenic National Defense General Staff Band, comprising the best musicians from all three branches of the armed forces, and in the presence of the Presidential Guard. Zannis will accompany the raising of the Greek flag on the ancient monument in a highly symbolic act.
A liturgy will follow at Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens at 8.30 a.m., before a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma Square at 9.20 a.m.
The military parade will begin at 10 a.m., in the presence of political and military leaders and visiting guests.