The Queen of Hellenes received Russian-style congratulations
Festive events are held in Athens to commemorate Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna Romanova, the Queen of Hellenes. Head of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the RF, scientists and public figures, as well as submarine hunter ship of Russian Navy «Smetlivy» were invited to take part in the events. The goal of the action is to remind about historical links of Russia and Greece. Anyway, experts are sure that the event has certain political grounds: organizers decided to remember the monarchical connections of the two countries for smoothing the relations between Russia and the West.
It is the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called that came up with the idea to celebrate the 165th anniversary of Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna Romanova, granddaughter of Russian Emperor Nicholas I, who became Queen of Greece in 1867. The Foundation’s initiative was supported by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the Ivan Savvidi Charity Fund. «She dedicated her life to strengthening and development of the Russian-Greek relations and to diplomatic and humanitarian rapprochement of Russia and Greece» — organizers of the event explained to «Ъ».
No doubt, marriage of Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna and Georg I, King of Greece, was of political importance: it strengthened diplomatic relations between Russia and Greece. Olga Konstantinovna is grandmother of Prince Philippe of Edinburgh, husband of Queen of England Elisabeth II, and great-grandmother of Sofia, Queen of Spain.
The commemorative events were held in the Trinity Cathedral which in 1847 was presented to Russia by King of Greece Otto I. Representatives of the Russian diplomatic mission in Greece, heads of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called and church members came to commemorate Queen Olga in their prayers.
«She made a significant contribution not only to the history of Russian and Greek people but also to the history of ecumenical Orthodoxy» — said priest Alexander Nosevich, the cleric of the Trinity Cathedral. «Under the roof of this Cathedral Queen Olga and ancestors of Grand Princes were praying. Nicholas II visited the church when he was Prince. The current event proves that Orthodox believers of Greece and Russia are the one in their prayers».
«The celebration takes place not in easy circumstances, but Church is not the stand where one should discuss politics» — said Vladimir Yakunin, President of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called. «Today in the Church there are people who remember their history and it doesn’t matter where they live — in Russia or in Greece. Our history is closely connected with the history of the Orthodox world, the whole world. And when we hold events dedicated to Queen Olga we once again speak about the role of Russia, about the role of Orthodoxy in the history of our country and the Orthodox world». Then Director General of the Museum of Russian Icon Nikolay Zadorozhny donated Smolensk Icon of Holy Mother of God to the Church. At once the clergy and church members had a sacred procession around the Cathedral.
After prayers for Queen Olga the organizers and participants of the festivities left for Piraeus Port. There at the port sailors from large submarine hunter ship «Smetlivy» of the Russian Navy were waiting for them. The sailors arrived from Sevastopol deliberately for participation in the festivities. It’s worth mentioning, the Queen took special care for Russian sailors who got sick in Greece. In Piraeus she used her own funds to build a Russian hospital. Army attaché of Russia in Greece, colonel Sergey Demyanov reminded to the participants that Grand Duchess also used her own means to build the Russian Necropolis for sailors, that she was Admiral of the Russian Navy. «On behalf of guard ship „Smetlivy“ I can assure you the Russian Fleet defended, defends and will defend peace in all the oceans and seas» — claimed Sergey Savchenko, the pilot-in-command.
On Tuesday and Wednesday Conference «Russia, Greece, Europe: traditions of cooperation and common historic fate» will take place as part of the festivities. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Greece Sergey Lavrov and Nikos Kodzias, Secretary General of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy Andreas Mikhailidis, scientists and public actors are invited to participate at the conference.
Though the events to commemorate Grand Duchess Olga are of cultural and educational character, experts are sure that there is some political element. «Following tense relations between Russia and the West such kind of events are to remind us that Russia and the West are historically connected, in particular by monarchical connections which no sanctions can destroy» said Roman Lunkin, Head of the Centre for Studies of Issues of Religion and Society at Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, President of the Guild of Experts on Religion and Law. «Undoubtedly, such people’s diplomacy is not enough to cardinally change the political situation but it can soften the current tensions». Vladimir Yakunin also admitted that in his opinion it is possible that «Greece as a member of European Union and NATO can influence greatly the development and normalization of relations between Russia and the West».
Pavel Korobov, Athens