Greece’s first female president was formally sworn in to office Friday, nearly two months after the country’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to elect her.
Katerina Sakellaropoulou, 63, is a former high court judge. The swearing-in ceremony took place in an almost empty parliament, as part of the government’s measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
“I hope that the election of a woman for the first time to the highest position of the country will improve the position of all women in the country, both in the family and in society”, she said, and added:“It is time for the women of this country to realize that they can attain their dreams, on their own merits, without facing obstacles simply because they were born women.”
In a brief speech, Sakellaropoulou spoke of the country’s battle against the virus and the recent migration crisis as the country’s two main challenges.
Earlier this month, the Turkish government opened the border with Greece, allowing the passage of thousands of migrants to Europe, complaining it had not received enough support from the EU in hosting Syrian refugees.
Sakellaropoulou said that Greece must “secure the integrity of our borders while also defending and fulfilling our humanitarian duty toward defenseless and desperate people, a difficult but not impossible equation”.
She also called on all Greeks to strictly adhere to the guidance given by health authorities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. With 117 confirmed cases and one death, Greece has imposed a strict lockdown, shutting down schools, universities, cinemas, theaters, gyms and nightclubs.