“The roots of academic education and the search for knowledge and truth were born here in Athens where the Academy was founded by Plato,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday said during a ceremony in which he was awarded an honorary doctorate of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
“Our relations have not been easy in recent years. The crisis distorted the image of the Germans for Greece and the Greeks for Germany. In the meantime, this image has improved. We have come closer …All the Germans who are interested in politics and culture in Greece, and who have Europe in their heart, have followed the path of reforms with great interest,” he said.
“We can only express our respect for the determination you show. This is a great achievement. It is an achievement primarily for your own country, but also for Europe as a whole. This should also be clearly recognized by Europe,” the German President said.
In addition, he said that the Germans do not forget their guilt for the things done by their ancestors. “We do not forget the special responsibility we have today and will have tomorrow from our history. A free, united and democratic Europe was the lesson learned from these experiences,” he underlined.
One of the main motives for founding the European Community and for the enlargement and deepening of the union that followed was to prevent Europe from ever again falling under the sway of dictatorship, where the weak were preyed on by the strong, people were persecuted for their religious and political beliefs and censorship and lack of freedom prevailed, he added.