The plan was to bring together three leaders of Russia, France and Great Britain— the three Great Powers that came to the Greeks’ rescue in 1827 in the Bay of Navarino to defeat the Ottoman Navy in one of the most decisive and historic battles in world history that ultimately led to Greece’s independence.
The Battle of Navarino was fought on October 20, 1827, at the height of the Greek War of Independence, which began in 1821. Navarino Bay (the modern town of Pylos in Messinia), on the west coast of the Peloponnese peninsula, in the Ionian Sea was the location where allied forces from Britain, France, and Russia decisively defeated Ottoman and Egyptian forces which were trying to suppress the Greeks.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the contemporary leader of a nation now 200 years into its maturity— would have been standing alongside Vladimir Putin, Prince Charles and French President Emmanuel Macron at a grand military parade celebrating Greece’s historic Bicentennial.
There was a lot of buzz in Athens as government sources believed the plan was a lock, even leaking information to the government-friendly Kathimerini which went as far as announcing that the three leaders would be attending.
But Vladimir had to rain on the Greek parade.
The Kremlin confirmed that Putin would not be traveling to Greece in March to participate in the national celebration of Greek Independence.
Although the buzz is that Putin’s denial was an overture to Turkey, Covid was cited— despite Greek authorities’ assurances that all possible health and safety measures would be implemented. Organizers even changed the parade’s location to an old military airport, away from the city center in order to prevent a potential super-spreader incident.
Neither Prince Charles, nor Emmanuel Macron have responded to the Greek Prime Minister’s invitation to participate. Also unknown is whether or not other world leaders have been invited to participate in the festivities.
One person who is probably smiling with Putin’s negative RSVP is Goeffrey Pyatt, America’s chief diplomat in Athens.
Pyatt and his team have spent much of the past few years fighting a growing Russian presence in Greece– particularly in the north– and trying to convince the Greeks that they should look westward to Europe and Washington and not to Moscow.
Pyatt has repeatedly irked Russian officials with his comments and Tweets, pressing hard against Russian attempts to establish a foothold in Greece.
Although officially, the United States had no formal engagement in Greece’s War for Independence, entire volumes have been written about the American Philhellenes who worked tirelessly for the cause of Greek freedom both at home, and even fighting in battles in Greece alongside the revolutionary forces.
For its part, the United States Embassy in Athens has kicked off a series of events to highlight the bicentennial year. Pyatt has made the Greece-U.S. friendship over the past 200 years a priority in 2021 as he wraps up his own term as Ambassador.
Pyatt spoke enthusiastically about the American involvement in the Greek quest for independence in 1821 and also reminded viewers on a nationally-televised interview in Greece that the Founding Fathers of the United States found tremendous inspiration in Greek thought and ideals when building the American nation.
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