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Vucic is awarded Gold Medal of Merit of the City of Athens

I am especially honored because this medal speaks to the true friendship and brotherhood between our peoples, said the president after receiving the decoration

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As part of his two-day visit to Greece, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis who presented him with the Gold Medal of Merit of the City of Athens.

"I am especially honored because this medal speaks to the true friendship and brotherhood between our peoples," said the president after receiving the decoration.

"Our nations have been close since the Middle Ages and Mt. Athos has been the meeting place of our cultures," said Vucic, adding that streets in Serbia and Greece named after the greats of the two peoples speak of our closeness and sincere friendship.

He recalled that in 1896 Serbian King Aleksandar Obrenovic was the first sovereign to attend the opening of the modern Olympic Games in Athens, and that in both Balkan wars, in 1912 and 1913, the two nations were the closest allies.

"In the First World War, had it not been for Greece and the Greek people, the Serbian state would have disappeared. And when (Eleftherios) Venizelos was offered territorial concessions at the expense of Serbia, he uttered the famous sentence: Greece is too small to be so underhanded. That is why this is one of the heroes of Serbia and not only of Greece," Vucic stressed.

The Serbian president also said that Serbs and Greeks suffered equally during the Second World War fighting against fascism, and that most surrounding nations belonged to the Axis while the Serbian and Greek people fought heroically and bravely for freedom.

He also pointed out that in 1999 (NATO bombing of Serbia), although Greece was a NATO member the Greek people stood with the Serbian people and provided assistance and support as best they could, when it was hard for Serbia.

The president stressed that Greece is one of the five EU countries that did not recognize independence of Kosovo and Metohija, for which we are grateful, and that today, when Greece feels a kind of threat in the Mediterranean, regardless of the good relations between Serbia and Turkey it is Serbia's duty to say that it will always safeguard, protect and advocate for the preservation of the territorial integrity of Greece, on land and at sea.

"Serbia and Greece will be together in good and in bad times, and I accept this medal as an additional obligation for Serbia and myself to do everything we can to further our economic, cultural and overall relations," said Vucic.

As he said, Serbia and Greece, Serbs and Greeks, when together, no matter how big some others may be, possess "invincible strength."

Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis, who presented the Gold Medal of Merit to the president of Serbia, said it was an acknowledgment of his contribution toward the great friendship connecting the Serb and Greek people, as well as a sign of genuine respect of his person.

He stressed that Vucic is an experienced politician who has repeatedly shown courage and changed the future of his country.

Bakoyannis stressed that the two peoples are linked by geographical proximity and a shared turbulent history through the centuries.

There is much, he said, that connects and unites the Greeks with the Serb people and that is why the two nations want to share a common future, in peace and harmony.

"You have repeatedly shown in the past that you are in favor of constructive relations and that you support the endeavor for cooperation while respecting our common values," he said.

He recalled that Athens and Belgrade have an agreement on friendship and cooperation that has lasted for more than 50 years.

"Belgrade is a capital that the Greeks especially love not only because of its history but also for its contemporary contribution to civilization," the mayor added.



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