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29 October, 2010
The Oct. 28 national holiday was celebrated with parades throughout Greece on Thursday, with the main commemoration of the 70th anniversary of "Ochi" (No) Day being the customary military parade in Thessaloniki and a pupils' parade through downtown Athens.
"We have a historic duty to secure for the young generation the right to a dignified life," president of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said in a message on the anniversary. Papoulias, who traditionally inspects the military parade in Thessaloniki on Ochi Day, was absent this year due to an infection that forced him to cancel his visit to Thessaloniki.
In his message, Papoulias noted that Greece "is at a critical turning point", and "crossing over is our duty to today's 18-year-olds who are beginning their journey with the weight of the debt on their shoulders and are called on to pay a bill for which they have no blame".
"The faster we rid ourselves of this burden, the faster the collective conscience will ease," he added.
The Oct. 28 "Ohi Day" national holiday, commemorating the anniversary of Greece's resounding "no" to then Italian dictator Mussolini's demand for free passage to invade Greece during World War II, brought Greece into the war on the Allied side. The day was also celebrated throughout the rest of the country with students' parades. The Thessaloniki parade was also attended by political party representatives, the armed forces leadership, MPs, and foreign diplomats.
In a message on the anniversary, Prime Minister George Papandreou drew a comparison between Greece's "resounding 'no' to the subjugation to the Axis forces, which led to war" with "today, when Greece is once again waging a difficult battle," adding that "we are already starting to win this battle too, with hard work, sacrifices and great difficulties".
The premier expressed his conviction that "as in every critical time in hour history, we will succeed today as well".
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, in his message, said "in this difficult period of economic crisis, we are inspired by the example" of the events being commemo-rated.
"We can take the country out of today's gloom and ensure a new prospect of recovery and hope," Samaras concluded.
Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos said that in today's period of generalised crisis "we are called on to act together, making every possible effort for an exit from the difficult situa-tion our country is in".
"We truly have difficult battles to wage. However, if we wage them together, we will emerge stronger from the present crisis," he added.
In a message, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that 70 years after the historic day, "the modern-day content of patrio-tism identifies with the organisation and battle of the working class and popular strata for the bankruptcy of the plutocracy, and not the people, for the popular alliance, in order to pave the way for popular authority".
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) MP Kyriakos Velopoulos, speaking after the parade in Thessaloniki, expressed a conviction that "today, united, we can win this different 'war''.
The Radical Left Coalition (Synaspismos), in a message, said that every era requires its own "No".
"Today, we say no to every kind of intervention, to the dissolution of the social state, to the razing of labour relations, to the memorandum of social and economic bankruptcy, to racism and xenophobia, to the ecological destruction of the planet."
Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who represented the government at the Thessaloniki parade, said the crisis is an opportunity and that, "through political stability, social cohesion and national unity, we will succeed and we will win the wager".
"Today, we honour and celebrate the Greece that deserves to be proud, the Greece that has proven historically that it knows what national sovereignty and national dignity is," he said, adding that such anniversaries "also teach us, the present-day Greeks, and demand of us to be united, responsible and forward-looking."
Source: Athens News Agency