Members of the European leadership celebrated Greece’s participation in the European Union during the ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Greece’s accession to the European project on Thursday.
“The Union gains an enormous benefit by having Greece in its nucleus,” stated Ursula Von Der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, in a recorded message. She went on to praise Greece’s vaccine program, calling it an “object of envy for many other countries.”
Von Der Leyen then spoke of the many benefits of Greece’s accession. She highlighted that Greece was able to develop and to reinforce its institutions in the EU. She also pointed out that Greeks were given the opportunity to freely travel and do business in Europe as well as enjoy the result of large scale European investments and the subsequent superior quality of life.
Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal which currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, spoke of the importance of the EU’s southern expansion, which started with Greece in 1981.
He stressed that the accession of Greece, Spain, and Portugal, who had experience dictatorial regimes was the most important political message of support to the process of democratization. Costa stated that the three countries were a source of inspiration for many and pointed out that the inclusion of the European South granted Europe routes to new continents and people across the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
“The European Union for Greece, as well as Portugal, over the last decades has been much more than a simple customs union, single market, or shared currency. Europe is mainly a union of common principles and mutual prosperity,” he concluded.
Finally, David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, pointed out that the inclusion of Greece in the EU placed democracy at the heart of the European project, paving the way for the democratic rebirth of Europe and its stabilization.
“Looking at these forty years since Greece’s accession, we can see the history of the European project,” he said.