The President of the Republic of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, has been proclaimed an honorary citizen of Salentine Greece (Grecia Salentina).
Ms. Sakellaropoulou received the honorary title during her visit to the Greek-speaking villages of Puglia in the Salento region of southern Italy, which she visited at the invitation of the President of the Association of Greek-speaking Municipalities of Salento Greece, Roberto Casaluchi, on the occasion of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of its founding.
Mrs. Sakellaropoulou expressed her joyful emotions about this high honor. She appreciated the association’s efforts to preserve history, traditions, local dialect, noting:
“When I watch young musicians write their songs in Griko; when I listen to little children speak Greek… Dear Mr. Casaluchi, with your work you prove that Greece is not just a geographical area or a physical territory. It is spiritual state.It exists, lives, enlightens as long as we nourish and preserve it.All of you, my fellow citizens, nourish and support it.With great pride in the steadfastness, perseverance, love with which you keep your Greek roots, I accept the great honor to become one of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Salentine Greece is a region of the Salentina Peninsula in Southern Italy near the city of Lecce, which is inhabited by an ethnic Greek minority living in Southern Italy and speaking a dialect of the Greek language.