Thousands of ordinary citizens, politicians and members of the government – as well as friends and family – were present for the last farewell to Greek statesman Constantine Mitsotakis, during the funeral service held in Athens on Wednesday afternoon.
A former prime minister, minister and the honorary leader of the New Democracy party for several decades, Mitsotakis was given a funeral with the honours of a serving prime minister at the Athens Metropolitican Cathedral, where his body had lain in state throughout the morning.
First to arrive were members of the family, including his daughter Dora Bakoyannis, an MP, his daughter Alexandra Mitsotakis Gourdain, his daughter Katerina Mitsotaki and his son and main opposition ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as well as his many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Among those attending the funeral were President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and several former Greek premiers, Parliament President Nikos Voutsis and Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis, as well as government ministers, the leaders of Greek political parties, main opposition New Democracy’s Parliamentary group and former ministers and MPs in his cabinet.
The funeral service, read by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, started shortly after 15:00 with a salute by honour guards from each of the three branches of the armed forces and music by an Athens Guard military band.
Funeral orations were read out by President Pavlopoulos, who praised the late statesman’s dedication to democracy and especially parliamentary democracy above all.
“He was a true European leader,” Pavlopoulos said, noting that the certainty of Greece’s European course was among the legacies that he had left, as well as that of unity and harmony in the country.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said that Greeks were mourning the passing of a great politician that had left his mark on Greek history, known for his bravery and his smile. Mitsotakis had stood up against populism and led efforts for reconciliation, he said, overlooking political cost for the good of Greece.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis was especially moved when his turn came to speak, saying his father had chosen to return to his beloved Crete as his final resting place “in a small cemetery at Agoulide, where anyone passing by chance would never imagine that a great politician is going to be there.”
“You were the last of a generation that passed through the Symplegades but also felt deeply the potential of our country and believed in it…Your political legacy was ever relevant, to respect the truth, to seek unity, to not forget that Greece’s future is in the heart of Europe,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. It was now the turn of the current generation to stand up to populism, envy and division, he added.
After the funeral service, Mitsotakis’ body was taken to Elefsina airport and flown to Crete in a C-130 military transport aircraft.