• Gianna Aggelopoulou-Daskalaki: "The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque constitutes an insult to Christians and the cultural heritage of the whole world "
• Tribute paid at the tomb of Eleftherios Venizelos, the great politician who spearheaded Crete's unification with Greece
• Synergy, collaboration and coalition: Chania demonstrates the way for the organizing of the events of the bicentennial of the Revolution
"The Greeks are a nation that respects its history and looks confidently towards the future. They preserve and display the traces of history. The exact opposite is the case with the decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque", said the President of the Committee "Greece 2021", Gianna Aggelopoulou-Daskalaki from Chania, which she visited together with the Members of the Committee, Professors Nikos Kanellopoulos, and Despoina Mouzaki. "It is an insult to Christians all over the world and a provocation to the collective cultural heritage. For me, for the Aggelopoulos family who revived Phanari, this is a real knife stab. A nation that prides itself in its history is not afraid of the signs or symbols of the past. It looks at them straight in the eye with self-control and continues its path toward the future. That is exactly how we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution. With self-discipline, confidence, and self-assurance," Mrs. Aggelopoulou underlined emphatically.
In his statements, following the meeting with the Committee delegation, the Mayor of Chania, Panagiotis Simandirakis, expressed his strong denunciation of the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, saying that "every civilized man is offended by this dramatic alteration, by this setback". Particularly moving was the position of his Eminence Metropolitan Bishop of Kydonia and Apokoronos, supreme and exarch of Cretan and Myrtoon Seas, Mr. Damaskinos, who underlined that, while in Istanbul the majority of Christians and Muslims lived together peacefully, the decision of the current leadership of Turkey constitutes a brutal disrespect of history. "Hagia Sophia is a world heritage monument, and as such, they should have respected it," he said.
"Pilgrimage" to the Tombs of the Venizelos Family
One of the most special moments of the visit was the "pilgrimage" by the Committee delegation to the Tombs of the Venizelos family, the site of the graves of seven-times Greek prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos, and his son, Sophocles Venizelos, also prime minister of the country. "The tombs of the Venizelos Family evoke respect and awe. National Leader Eleftherios Venizelos created modern Greece, founded the great moment when Crete, after many uprisings, after so much spilled blood, actually unified with Greece," stressed the President of the Committee. The General Director of the Museum of Eleftherios Venizelos, Nikolaos Papadakis, noted emphatically that Eleftherios Venizelos "completed and finalized the great struggle of the heroes of 1821". In this special tribute, the President and the Members of the Committee were accompanied by the Mayor of Chania, Paralympian swimmer Antonis Tsapatakis, basketball champion Giannis Erinakis, director Thodoris Papadoulakis and students from the 6th High School of Chania who, under the guidance of their teachers, created a "smart glove" that identifies the alphabet of sign language.
The Committee delegation also toured the house at Halepa, which was the home of Eleftherios Venizelos and nowadays is a museum. "This is an excellent museum, interactive, with a digitized collection of the national leader's writings and heirlooms," said the Assembly Member, Mr. Kanellopoulos. During the museum visit, there was a discussion on the possibility of putting under the auspices of the Committee the impressive digitization project that is being organized by the Eleftherios Venizelos Foundation. Eleftherios Venizelos was "a philosopher of Politics, a fiery patriot, an international Cretan who stamped great chapters of Greek history", the President of the Committee wrote, among others, in the museum's guest book.
Synergy, collaboration, and coalition
Particularly impressive was the willingness for collaboration and coalition by the local authorities toward organizing the events for the 200th anniversary of the Revolution. It is noted that the Municipality of Chania has submitted to the Committee's electronic platform a proposal concerning the digital depiction of the monuments of Chania, through the use of new technologies, a topic discussed extensively during the meeting the Committee had with the Mayor of Chania.
The President and the Members of the Committee also met with the Deputy Governor of the Regional Division of Chania, Nikos Kalogeris, and Mayors and Deputy Mayors of other Municipalities of the Prefecture (Platanias, Apokoronos, Sfakia, Kantanos Selinos, Kissamos). The representatives of the Municipalities presented the proposals which they intend to submit to the Committee for the 200th anniversary of 1821, with the President of the Committee urging the attendees to submit proposals that will include a legacy for the future, in addition to celebrating the past. "Synergy, collaboration, and coalition. The example we have seen today in Chania must become common practice for all. The Deputy-Region managed to bring the municipalities together. And this is of huge importance," stressed the President of the Committee. "We must remember this entire course of 200 years how it all started with a handful of chieftains in 1821 and where we stand today. What is our position in the world? This whole journey through history makes us proud. But we also need to see what our prospects are, our position in Europe and the world, and how we will move forward in the coming years," said Deputy Governor Mr. Kalogeris.
During the visit to Chania, the President and the Members of the Committee also toured the Venetian Neoria, the Maritime Museum of Crete, but also the Fortress Firka, the place where the flag of the union between Crete and Greece was raised on December 1, 1913, at the presence of then King Constantinos, the Chaniot Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and a large gathering of people.
The President of the Committee "Greece 2021" Gianna Aggelopoulou-Daskalaki presents to Deputy Governor of the Regional Division of Chania Nikos Kalogeris, as a gift, the "Precursor," the Committee's collectible medal. The photo also features the Regional Advisor for the Department of Health, Education, and Culture, Mrs. Sofia Malandrakis.
At the Center for Mediterranean Architecture, the President of the Committee "Greece 2021" Gianna Aggelopoulou-Daskalaki and the Members of the Assembly of the Committee, Professors Nikos Kanellopoulos and Despoina Mouzaki discuss with the Mayor of Chania Panagiotis Simandirakis and his Eminence Metropolitan Bishop of Kydonia and Apokoronos, supreme and exarch of Cretan and Myrtoon Seas, Mr. Damaskinos.