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Greece to Honor Haiti in FM’s Visit

Greece to honor Haiti
Greece and Haiti share strong bonds; artisan in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Credit: Ketounette, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia commons

Greece will honor Haiti for being the first nation in the world to recognize Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

The country’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias announced recently that he will pay an official visit to the tiny Caribbean nation of Haiti in gratitude.

It took several more years for the great powers of the world, including Great Britain, France and Russia, to do likewise — putting the small nation founded by people who had formerly been enslaved into a position of prominence.

In a Tweet published on Monday, the Greek Foreign Minister said that the visit came about as a proposal put forth by MP Constantinos Bogdanos and Athanasios Papadopoulos, the mayor of Kalavryta. 

Dendias stated that the Greek Foreign Ministry is “already planning a series of relevant actions” to “honor Haiti.”

Haitian War of Independence
Jean-Pierre Boyer, the second President of Haiti. Portrait by “B.C.”, Port au Prince, Haiti. Public domain

In his Tweet, the Foreign Minister stated “The aim is to emphasize the importance that our country attaches to the official recognition of the Greek Revolution of 1821 by the Republic of Haiti and its practical support.”

Dendias added that he will visit the Caribbean country in the second half of 2021 “as part of a visit to countries in the region, if the epidemiological conditions allow.”

Dendias had announced earlier that he would visit the nearby island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines since it is one of the ten non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Greece also taking part in fight to combat modern slavery

The Greek Foreign Minister is also planning to visit all the countries that have a non-permanent position on the Security Council both this year and next.

In an acknowledgement of Haiti’s history as an island where slavery was instituted in the early days of its settlement, Dendias added that “A Greek initiative is being promoted at the UN to strengthen actions and provide funding to combat modern forms of slavery, a matter of particular sensitivity for the Republic of Haiti.

“The aim of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to coordinate with the Greece 2021 Committee and other bodies, such as the Municipality of Kalavryta, in order to multiply the added value of actions related to Haiti,” he stated.

Haitian leaders recognize themselves in Greek freedom fighters

Haitian leaders at the time of the Greek Revolution linked Greece’s struggle for independence with their own, as they had fought — and won — their liberation from French rule and the abolition of slavery.

A letter written by the second Haitian President, Jean-Pierre Boyer, to the Greek academic Adamantios Korais — who was also a friend of Thomas Jefferson — on January 15,1822, likened the situation of the two nations as they fought off foreign rule and shook off the shackles of oppression.

Korais and other prominent Greeks who were resident in Paris at the time had reached out for international aid and assistance with the Revolution, after the famous French general Lafayette and Bishop Gregory of Vlaise had visited the area.

Greece Haiti Bonds

The Marquis de Lafayette, who had given vast sums of his own fortune to the cause of American independence from Great Britain, is recognized as being one of the greatest figures of the American Revolution.

As an impoverished Caribbean country, in which the citizens were just beginning to form a nation of their own, Haiti could not send material aid to Greece in 1821, but the letter sent by its new leader became a source of great comfort in the years of strife against the Ottomans.

Boyer’s letter in full:

“Before I received your letter from Paris, dated last August 20, the news about the revolution of your co-citizens against the despotism which lasted for about three centuries had already arrived here.

“With great enthusiasm we learned that Hellas was finally forced to take up arms in order to gain her freedom and the position that she once held among the nations of the world.

“Such a beautiful and just case, most importantly, the first successes which have accompanied it, cannot leave Haitians indifferent, for we, like the Hellenes, were for a long time subjected to a dishonorable slavery and finally, with our own chains, broke the head of tyranny.

“Wishing to the Heavens to protect the descendants of Leonidas, we thought to assist these brave warriors, if not with military forces and ammunition, at least with money, which will be useful for acquisition of guns, which you need.

“But events that have occurred and imposed financial restrictions onto our country absorbed the entire budget, including the part that could be disposed by our administration.

“Moreover, at present, the revolution which triumphs on the eastern portion of our island is creating a new obstacle in carrying out our aim; in fact, this portion, which was incorporated into the Republic I preside over, is in extreme poverty and thus justifies immense expenditures of our budget.

“If the circumstances, as we wish, improve again, then we shall honorably assist you, the sons of Hellas, to the best of our abilities.

“Citizens! Convey to your co-patriots the warm wishes that the people of Haiti send on the behalf of your liberation.

“The descendants of ancient Hellenes look forward, in the reawakening of their history, to trophies worthy of Salamis.

“May they prove to be like their ancestors and guided by the commands of Miltiades, and be able, in the fields of a new Marathon, to achieve the triumph of the holy affair that they have undertaken on behalf of their rights, religion and motherland.

“May it be, at last, through their wise decisions, that they will be commemorated by history as the heirs of the endurance and virtues of their ancestors.

“(Signed) In the 15th of January 1822 and the 19th year of Independence, Boyer.

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