Your Eminence, Πανοσιολογιώτατε,
My dear colleague, if you allow me,
Μέλη του Κοινοβουλίου, της τοπικής αυτοδιοίκησης (Members of Parliament, members of local authorities),
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am sorry I am mixing Greek and English but I take it that’s the way it goes.
Well, His Eminence was kind enough to treat me better than everybody else. He says we treat outsiders better. So, thank you so much. But, please allow me to say I do not feel an outsider at all here. I feel very much at home. And thank Your Eminence and all of you. And thank you Mélanie and thank you dear friends for making me feel that way. I have to say the warmth of your presence, the warmth of the Greek community in Montreal is something amazing for me coming from Greece here for the first time in my life. And please allow me to promise you that it will not be my last at all.
As Mélanie was kind enough to say, the very important fact that we see happening is that you have developed the ability to preserve two very important elements, δύο πολύ σημαντικά πράγματα. The first one is the Greek language. Την ελληνική γλώσσα. Because, as I said before, this language represents a connection with our civilization, with our tradition, with our history. The language is something that is alive. It expresses emotions, it expresses experiences, it expresses victories, it expresses defeats, it expresses tragedies.
Ποιος σε αυτόν τον κόσμο μπορεί να μεταφράσει τη λέξη Άλωση και να την καταλάβει όπως την καταλαβαίνουν οι Έλληνες, σαν τραγωδία; Σε όποια γλώσσα και αν τη μεταφράσεις; Λοιπόν, αυτό είναι το πρώτο που μας καθορίζει.
[Who in this world can translate the Greek word “Alosi” (Fall) into any language and understand it as a tragedy as the Greeks do? Well, that is the first thing that defines us].
Το δεύτερο, the second one is our relation with the Orthodox Church. Not just the building or the fact that we come together once or twice a week during a liturgy but this spirit that is behind the Greek Orthodox Church. Earlier, I was proud to show Mélanie the icons, two-dimensional icons, and what they represent as a philosophy, as an understanding of the world. What’s worth moving forward and what’s not that important.
So, thank you so much for protecting this proud tradition. And thank you so much for keeping the connection with the motherland. But at the same time, again as Mélanie said, being part of a very proud example of a multi-ethnic, democratic society that protects human rights, which is Canada.