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Doctors, nurses, cleaners, other essential workers attend President’s reception

For the first time ever, the President of the Hellenic Republic invited essential workers such as doctors, nurses, cleaners and supermarket staff to attend the traditional reception to celebrate the restoration of democracy following the junta’s fall in 1974.

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou wanted to honor all those who were present in the front lines of the pandemic crisis during the 7-week lockdown..

Next to above mentioned staff, present at the Presidential Mansion gardens were also ambulance drivers, firefighters, staff from cleaning and delivery services.

Due to pandemic restrictions this year, guests were limited to 500. Party leaders, ministers, a selection of lawmakers and representatives of arts and culture were present.

In her traditional speech on the occasion of the day, Sakellaropoulou spoke about democracy and Turkey.

“Democracy today is often the focus of sharp criticism, especially by populists and extremists of every political side,” The President said.

“Our democracy has a historic and social depth, and nobody may belittle it and trivialize it. The comparisons some people attempt with the dark era of the dictatorship are not simply historically ignorant, they are also directly antidemocratic. We all know there is no perfect democracy.”

The president said that a lot needs to be done continuously to maintain democracy, “a difficult and demanding exercise,” as she called it. She added that “respect of democracy and focus on defending our country is the strongest message of unity and a responsibility” of all Greeks, and included among democracy’s demands the safeguarding of the state of law, managing the economic crisis, development, environmental protection and better prospects for young people.

July 24 is a date that also entails a sad anniversary, that of the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus, and a rising Turkish aggression, Sakellaropoulou said. “Today, circumstances are even harder and emotional for all of us. For the first time in 86 years, a Muslim prayer was held at Hagia Sophia,” she said of today’s formal  conversion of the monument to a mosque.

The event, she added, is “deeply hurtful” and goes beyond Christianity, to deliver a blow to Turkey’s relationship with Turkey, the EU and the global community.

“Turkey is removing itself from the principles of the secular state and the values of tolerance and religious pluralism,” Sakellaropoulou noted, but the monument itself will shine as “a symbol of religious cohabitation and a monument of world cultural heritage.”

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