Greeting of the President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the unveiling of a commemorative plaque for the children from Cyprus who found hospitality in Greece in September 1974

It is with emotion that I attend the unveiling of the commemorative plaque in honor of all those who, after the Turkish invasion of 1974, opened their homes and arms to hundreds of children from Cyprus and took care of them as if they were their own, with unfailing love, offering them shelter, security, care and education.

It is a small tribute to these nameless people who, with a surplus of heart, wanted to ease the trauma of “Attila” and comfort the tender souls of the loss of loved ones and violent uprooting from their ancestral homes by providing them with a family and turning their pain into hope. Ordinary people who spontaneously responded to the call of the late Metropolitan Ilias and Olenis Athanasios, who inspired the idea of ​​hosting children from bloody Cyprus, in the fall of 1974. Their gesture was a symbolic expression of the enduring unity of Greek and Cypriot Hellenism.

Those children, during the time they stayed in Greece, became closely connected with their sponsors. Their shocking testimonies, as recorded in the book of one of them, by Niovis Kerkidou, who even gave it the characteristic title “Thank you”, are not only a source of expression of gratitude and recognition of the contribution of their contractors, but also a warm validation of this of the bond.

Unfortunately, to this day, none of these Cypriots has been able to return to the home of their birth, in the occupied territories. Today’s event therefore gives me the opportunity to reiterate that the Cyprus issue remains the top national priority of Greek foreign policy. Our position on its resolution has been consistent over time: full support for efforts under the auspices of the United Nations for a mutually acceptable solution on the basis of the relevant Security Council Resolutions.

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Recalling this painful aspect of recent history brings to mind for all of us the drama of today’s refugee children, the most vulnerable group among the uprooted. By taking care of their protection, offering them the possibility to heal their wounds and the opportunity to make a new start in their lives, we are responding to a moral, social, political duty. As we do at every critical moment. Once for the children of Cyprus, today for the tortured, orphaned children of the whole world, regardless of their origin or religion.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Congratulations to the President and members of the Unaccompanied Children Initiative Group in Greece 1974-1979 for taking the initiative to organize today’s event. But especially to those who opened their arms to the refugee children, during that tragic time. The selfless love with which they received them constitutes, both for us and for future generations, a bright example of humanity, contribution, solidarity and national responsibility.

Thank you.

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