Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Greece celebrates Oct. 28 national holiday

President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday attended the military parade held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki to mark the October 28 national holiday - or Ochi Day - which commemorates Greece's decision to defy the Axis powers and join World War II on the side of the Allies.

In statements immediately after the end of the parade, Papoulias referred to the present-day relevance of the messages of that time, the legacy of national resistance and the sacrifices of people that had laid down their lives to defend Greece's freedom.

"The struggle continues today on many levels for the defence of the country and its territorial integrity, for a better future, for better health, for better education, for a new social conscience, a sense of solidarity with the weak and persecuted, for the creation of a country that embraces all of us and especially the young people that live with the dream of a better life," he said.

National Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the day was a reminder that "we must be united, responsible, optimistic and proud," while stressing that this demanded a nationwide effort.
"This is the effort the government is directing and it is in this effort that we invite all Greek men and women to participate, without any kind of political discrimination, in order to make our country stronger, more competitive and better for all of us," he said.

Main opposition New Democracy Parliamentary group secretary Yiannis Tragakis, who represented ND leader Costas Karamanlis, stressed that the "heart of Greece today beat in Macedonia, in Thessaloniki" and underlined ND's pride in "our armed forces youth".
"Let us all take as our example the sacrifices of the heroes of 1940. Let us today all say no to terrorism, say a big no to corruption and a big yes to democratic processes, a big yes to transparency and a big yes to the unity of Greeks," he added.

Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) George Karatzaferis noted that, 69 years after 1940, Greece "must again say no, but this time to an enemy that lies within the gates. We must defeat terrorism. We must defeat that which seriously harms democracy."

The parade in Thessaloniki was also attended by the candidates for main opposition ND's leadership, Antonis Samaras, Dora Bakoyannis, Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis and Dimitris Avramopoulos, in addition to the usual military leadership and local government officials.
After the parade, Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos held an official luncheon in honour of President Papoulias, who expressed satisfaction that the Egnatia Highway now linked Thessaloniki directly with the northwestern Greek city of Ioannina, saying that this would greatly boost cooperation between the two cities.

In Athens, as in every other municipality of Greece, the day was marked by parades of school children throughout the country. The parade in central Athens going past Syntagma Square was attended by Education, Lifelong Learning and Religions Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and had been preceded by a celebratory mass and the laying of wreaths at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, other local government officials and representatives of the political parties.

No comments: