An event marking the opening of a series of Events for the Celebration the 2500-year Anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Salamis was held in Athens, at the Zappeion Mansion, on Wednesday, 16 October 2019.
The event was attended by His Excellency, the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Prime Minister Mr Kyriakos MitsotakIs, Minister of Culture and Sports Mrs Lina Mendoni, Minister of Interior Mr Panagiotis Theodorikakos and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mrs Marianna Vardinoyannis. The Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Ministry of Interior and the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation were the joint organisers of the event.
The President of the Hellenic Republic Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who declared the opening of the events for the 2500-year anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Salamis, congratulated the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Ministry of the Interior for the outstanding inspiration and initiative of jointly organising this celebratory series of events, of a historical significance, and underlined: “ Greece, faithful to its historical heritage, remains – in fact during this difficult time of conflict and war in our broader region – a bulwark of the West against the East, representing the values of genuine and unselfish peace, freedom, and democracy. Our main bridge being that of an equal and constructive Dialogue of Cultures, since for us, Greeks, there is no conflict between real Cultures […], we must rebuild bridges and demonstrate that our culture supports dialogue”.
The Prime Minister Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke about “an important event, by which we, the Greek State, with the support of the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation, are launching the events of remembrance of the important historical milestones that took place in this country 2500 years ago”, and continued by saying: “The anniversary, therefore, we will soon be celebrating is not simply a historical event that belongs to the long Greek tradition. It is one of the most critical turning points in the history of humanity[…] Greece, of course, is called upon to renew the role it has always held: A symbol of Democracy and Culture and a meeting point for people on the pathway to progress. I therefore would like to thank from my heart the International Organising Committee, the President of the Deanship, Mrs Marianna Vardinoyannis, for her active contribution in the best possible and very well-thought out, I dare say, opportunity we have been given to celebrate this important anniversary. And I would like to personally congratulate Mrs Vardinoyannis because she has been working on this significant date for a number of years. Long before the Greek State realised its significance. And I would also like to underline how important it is in such actions, to be able to meet with the civil society. The organised state itself, Local Government, which is represented today by all Mayors, who will have their own important and special role to play in these anniversary events and the official State, through the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Interior, in a fertile synthesis… It is therefore our duty to turn this 2500-year anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Salamis into a starting point of a reverse course towards national self-awareness”.
The Minister of Culture Mrs Lina Mendoni remarked that the Ministry of Culture, with the Prime Minister’s guidance, is preparing to celebrate this important anniversary, and she went into detail about the importance of the Battle of Salamis and the Battle of Thermopylae: “Since Thermopylae fulfilled the moral prerequisite by serving as the sacrificial altar which the establishment of “virtue” required, Salamis became the place where this virtue transformed, taking on its other, complementary substance of “freedom”. By embodying virtue, Greeks achieved the seemingly impossible, a miracle: They went beyond human boundaries, they triumphed over the logic of the numbers and they created that critical turning point in the fight, which would allow them immediately after, in Plataies, with a renewed faith and hope, to attempt to regain on an equal footing and to ultimately solidify their freedom. For the past 2500 years, the Western world and Hellenism recognise in the miracle of Salamis an event which decisively contributed in the salvation and consolidation of their emerging civilisation, having a catalytic role in the philosophical, political and artistic explosion that followed, under the physical and intellectual leadership of the Athenian democracy. The triumph of Salamis on the one hand salvaged Hellenism, and on the other made possible these cultural achievements”.
Mrs Vardinoyannis on her part thanked the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos who placed the events under his auspices, as well as Prime Minister Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis for the great honour, while she underlined that the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation has set the goal to help the younger generation have a feeling of ‘ownership’ over this important anniversary.
“I feel deep honour and I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart Prime Minister Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis for this important assignment. It is a duty for me and a great responsibility to serve my country, and I will gladly cooperate with Minister of Culture Mrs Lina Mendoni and the Minister of Interior Mr Panagiotis Theodorikakos in the joint organisation of this celebration. A celebration that needs to be relevant to the modern era. That needs to speak in modern terms about the age-old values, which are however the only ones that can guarantee the future of Democracy, which is everyone’s duty. Thermopylae and Salamis still exist today and as concepts are more relevant than ever. This is why I believe that it is our duty, above all, to put our ideological and national stamp on our celebration for the 2500-year anniversary, at the same time however implementing a policy for the promotion of these historical regions where history was written. The goal of our Foundation is to help the younger generation have a feeling of ‘ownership’ over the history of these battles and their importance. With actions in schools across the country, we intend to give students the opportunity to analyse history and to be inspired by its symbolisms. To reinforce their national awareness and to create, in their own words and from their own imagination, our future democracy […] Greece has always been a place of dialogue. My hope is that our events will launch such a dialogue for Democracy, founded in the past and contribute in understanding the present, focusing on Democracy and building a better future for all the people of the world. Let us start with the words of Aeschylus: “Forward, sons of the Greeks”.
The event was moderated by the Art Director of the National Theater, Mr Dimitris Lignadis, who in fact closed the evening by reciting an excerpt from “The Persians” by Aeschylus.
The event was attended by representatives of political parties, the Hellenic Armed Forces, the Church and from Local Government, as well as Ambassadors and foreign dignitaries such as: the former President of Bosnia Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanic, the former President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yuschenko, together with his wife, Katheryna Yushchenko, the former Prime Minister of Bosnia Herzehogivna Slatko Lgumdzija and the former Prime Minister of Croatia, Jadranka Kosor.