Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades is in Athens for celebrations marking Greece’s independence from Ottoman Turkish rule 200 years ago.
Britain’s Prince Charles and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin are also expected to attend the bicentennial celebrations during which French and U.S. fighter jets will be taking part as well in the grand annual military parade on Thursday.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Greece’s message is that it has emerged from the biggest bailout in economic history in 2018 after years of painful austerity that drove it deep into poverty.
No sooner had the economy started to recover, than the coronavirus pandemic hit and Greece slipped back into recession.
However, the conservative government, which announced the March 25 independence day celebrations as a sign that Greece was back soon after it came to power in 2019, is determined to press ahead, even if events have been scaled back sharply.
“Especially for young people, I believe such symbolic dates can really mark a break from the past,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said this week.
“The challenge immediately after the pandemic is not just to take a few steps of improvement but many brave leaps of progress.”
Although the coronavirus has meant celebrations are smaller and many events moved online, some have been held.
In Agia Lavra, one of Greece‘s oldest monasteries, actors wearing the kilt-like dress of Greek revolutionaries last week re-enacted the taking of the legendary oath of “Freedom or Death!” – the slogan of revolt against Ottoman rule.
Greece was under Ottoman rule for nearly 400 years since Ottoman Turks invaded what was then Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine empire, in 1453.
Scattered uprisings in 1821 escalated into a full-scale war which – helped by the intervention of Britain, France and Russia – finally resulted in the establishment of an independent kingdom of Greece in 1832.