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Greece swears in new president Prokopis Pavlopoulos

THE new president of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, was sworn in here on Friday.

"I swear to protect the Constitution and the serve the general interests of Greek people," the 64-year-old moderate conservative law professor said during a special ceremony held before the parliament plenary.

Pavlopoulos took over from 85-year-old Karolos Papoulias in an official handover ceremony held at the Presidential Mansion after laying a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in central Athens.

Outgoing president Papoulias passed the baton, saying: "You assume your responsibilities in difficult times under dark clouds. There are many things at stake...The most significant today is national understanding," meanwhile expressing certainty that his successor would be an excellent head of state.

For his part, Pavlopoulos said: "The great honor for me has already turned into a great responsibility. We should all contribute so that our country exits the crisis."

Pavlopoulos is Greece's seventh president after the restoration of democracy in 1974 following a seven-year military junta.

He was elected on Feb. 18 for a five-year term in the largely ceremonial post. Pavlopoulos won the support of 233 members of parliament in the 300-member strong assembly after his nomination by Syriza Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The election of the new president follows a recent trend in Greek politics wherein prime ministers propose ideological opponents for the post of the head of state as a gesture of willingness to cooperate with all political forces.

Pavlopoulos has served as an interior minister (from 2004 to 2009) and has been regarded as a moderate voice in Greek politics throughout his political career which started in 1996 when he was first elected as a legislator.

In recent weeks he has stressed the necessity for a "common struggle" so that Greece exits the current debt crisis.

According to a recent survey, the majority of Greek citizens (54.7 percent) think positively of his election, while 36.3 percent have reservations.


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