15 March, 2005
Karolos Papoulias was sworn in as the country’s 6th President of the Republic, since the end of the junta era in 1974, at noon on Saturday and said he is assuming his duties at a difficult time for the country.
Papoulias, 76, added that it is a period with a crisis in institutions and values, adding that the Greeks must intensify their efforts to protect the country’s name both abroad and at home so that the motherland cannot hurt them, their children and their grandchildren.
Mr. Papoulias was welcomed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda who led him to the packed Parliament Hall, where he was sworn in during a ceremony officiated by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
After the ceremony, President Papoulias descended the steps leading to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located outside the House of Parliament, and laid a wreath.
Outgoing president Kostis Stephanopoulos welcomed the new president on the threshold of the Presidential Mansion and both stood to attention as the national anthem was played by the Presidential Guard. Immediately afterwards, he led President Papoulias to his office where he addressed him formally.
The outgoing president said in his address that the country has enjoyed a smooth period of political life in past years, but he also stressed the need for procedures of control and of the imposition of sanctions to be strengthened in certain aspects of political life since what public opinion is hearing lately is unfortunate.
"You are accompanied by the wishes of all the Greeks and of me for personal happiness and for the consolidation of democracy, which the people love and are proud of," he said.
He further said that institutions are functioning smoothly in Greece and this is due to the political parties which observe the constitution and behave with a sense of responsibility and with wisdom.
"Fanaticism has been rejected by the citizens and this is a paramount democratic virtue. Maybe even greater than national unity which exists, one way or another, when the target is a common one, meaning defending democracy and just national causes," the outgoing president added.
He went on to say that he is confident that President Papoulias "will do everything to serve national interests", as he had done when he had been a minister.
President Papoulias said in reply that he was moved by his predecessor's words, adding that he had also been moved by him in the past "when you had been expressing your concern over major national issues" and that "you succeeded in becoming the voice of the form of government and of the average citizen who is struggling for a better tomorrow and a fairer world."
The new president also said "you annoyed powerful friends of ours and you also said rough words about the social majority. You said the truth. Your truth."
Concluding his address, President Papoulias said the outgoing president is "leaving a heavy heritage" and stressed that he will try to live up to what he had created.
The new President of the Republic, the sixth since the restoration of democracy in Greece, will receive courtesy calls from the political party leaders later in the week.
His first official visit abroad in his new capacity is tentatively scheduled for May, when he will go to Moscow to attend events marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The 50th anniversary events, in May 1995 in Moscow, had been attended by Papoulias' predecessor, Costis Stephanopoulos.
Source: Athens News Agency