Greece joined the European Community as its 10th member on January 1, 1981, having found its place in Europe and sharing its interests and goals, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, quoting Constantine Karamanlis who initiated the membership process and saw it through.
Speaking at an event in Zappeion Hall for the 40th anniversary of Greece’s accession to what later became the European Union, Mitsotakis said that the decision for the first southern European state to join the union enriched both sides.
Greece’s membership of the European Community, at first, and the European Union is a non-negotiable aspect of the country’s identity, he stressed.
At the event, which also marks the start of the European Commission’s “Conference on the Future of Europe”, Mitsotakis said there was no Greek public sector aspect that did not benefit from the membership in the union, despite the crisis in the last decade.
EU members share more than funding, he added, such as a common attitude to life, the economy and society, which however bear both rights and obligations.
Η ενσωμάτωση των ευρωπαϊκών κανόνων ενίσχυσε το κράτος δικαίου στην Ελλάδα. Ήρθαν νέες αντιλήψεις για το Περιβάλλον, τον Πολιτισμό, την Παιδεία. Η κοινοτική ομπρέλα ενίσχυσε τη διπλωματική και αμυντική μας φαρέτρα. Ενώ oι πόροι της Ένωσης προίκισαν τη χώρα με πολύτιμες υποδομές. pic.twitter.com/Tqq5hIrLvc
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) May 27, 2021
He said the country only faced an unpleasant break in 2015, when divisive populism dominated discourse and Greece came near catastrophe, with progressive forces resisting and crushing the powers of demagoguery.
Today Greece is in the front lines of the European community, reliable and strong, with an economy that is constantly being upgraded, Mitsotakis claimed.
The joint purchase of Covid-19 vaccinations and the European Certificate of vaccination are Europe’s top achievements in overcoming the pandemic crisis, he said.
The event was attended by Greek and EU officials, including the president of Greece.
Greece joins European Community
Forty years ago, on January 1, 1981, Greece made a huge leap forward by joining Europe through its accession to the European Economic Community.
Greece had sought membership in the European family long before it signed the official accession agreement in May 28, 1979.
The European identity was crucial for the country after its emergence from the horrors of the German Occupation and the bloody Civil War.
In fact, Greece applied to be part of the newly established European Economic Community way back in June 1959, an application that led to the Association Agreement between Greece and the EEC, signed in June 1961.
However, this agreement, which in fact constituted the first step towards Greece’s integration into the European Community, “froze” when the colonels seized power in April 1967.
The accession procedures were re-activated after democracy was restored in July 1974. The Greek government, and Constantinos Karamanlis in particular, aimed to integrate the country into the European Union as a full member.
Indeed, the application for full accession was submitted on July 12, 1975, by means of a letter addressed to the President at that time of the European Union Ministerial Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Garret Fitzgerald.