The Greek Press Today
© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
29 October, 2007
The October 28 national holiday was celebrated with parades throughout Greece on Sunday, with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias expressing his optimism that the country can achieve any goals its sets, no matter how ambitious, because it has endless abilities, provided it leaves behind self-centred practices and attitudes, speaking after the traditional military parade in Thessaloniki.
National defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who represented the government at the Thessaloniki parade, stressed that Greece wishes to live peacefully in the international environment, and responded with dialogue to intransigence.
The October 28 "Ochi Day" national holiday, commemorating the anniversary of Greece's resounding "Ochi" (no) to then Italian dictator Mussolini's demand for free passage to invade Greece during World War II, which brought Greece into the war on the Allied side, was also celebrated throughout the rest of the country with students' parades. On Oct. 28, 1940, fascist Italy presented Greece with the ulti-matum, but Greek leader Ioannis Metaxas tersely refused, and the country not only denied Mussolini's forces free passage, it went on the offensive in mid-November and drove the opposing forces back through part of southern Albania.
The Thessaloniki parade was also attended by political party representatives, the Armed Forces leadership, MPs, and foreign diplomats.
In a statement after the parade, Papoulias said that "on such days, we devote more time to think about what the struggling Greek people accomplished".
"This inspires us, and an aura of optimism pervades us that this land, this country, this people, have endless abilities, provided we leave behind us self-centred practices and attitudes, and instead draw examples from the struggle of those people who fought for our liberty and independence," the President said, adding that "today's momentous military parade showed that the Armed Forces are the guarantor of or national independence, the security of our borders, and the domestic tranquility of our people".
He said that it was up to the people, "inspired by the struggles of those who gave their lives so that we may live better, to engage in a creative new era", adding that he was optimistic that "together, we can achieve all our goals, regardless of how ambitious they are".
In his own statement after the parade commemorating "the most glorious page of our history", the defence minister said that Greece was sending out the message that the country "wishes to live peacefully in this international environment, with good neighbour relations, and to serve the principles of the pan-human values".
"We are sending a message that the Armed Forces are forces of peace. They are forces that guarantee the freedom and independence of the Greek people. the Greek citizens, and the visitors to our country, may feel safe," he said.
Meimarakis also stressed that investments in the Armed Forces were an investment in peace "precisely because these Armed Forces avert any thought of any claims (against the country) and manifest that they can do their duty whenever it is necessary to do so".
Where others put forward quantity, he said, Greece put forward "quality and professionalism, excellent training, morale, mettle and, above all, the belief that we are fighting for that which is fair and just", adding that "this morale can be victorious over any quantity".
"To intransigence, we respond with dialogue, arguments and conviction. And let no one think that this is weakness. We insist on the principles of dialogue, and persist in living peacefully. I believe that this message is received by everyone," Meimarakis said.
Main opposition PASOK representative Haris Kastanidis said after the parade that "wars are won by those who defend principles and values, and are lost by those who act as predators, in the name of violence".
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis said that "those who do not hear the voice of Greece can see the strength of its Armed Forces. The better they see, the better for all".
Thessaloniki Prefect Panayotis Psomiadis said that this year's magnificent parade "is the best response to all those rusty minds that do not want the continuity of Hellenism, to those fools who consider that patriotism is nationalism".
The President later attended a luncheon in his honour hosted by Thessaloniki mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, with other guests including Meimarakis, Psomiadis and the Armed Forces leadership.
Toasting the President, Papageorgopoulos said that Thessaloniki was on an upward course and winning the battle for development, with a plethora of projects currently underway. He also noted the environmental problems faced by Thessaloniki.
Papoulias replied that, every time he visited Thessaloniki, he saw "something new", but also noted that growth had a negative side, namely repercussions on the environment, and stressed the need for creating a new social conscience on environmental protection that needs to begin "from kindergarten".
The country's Armed Forces comprised a strong factor of stability, security and peace in the wider region today, but also played a social role of exceptional importance, as they were always at the forefront not only when the country was facing adversities, but also when society was in need, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said Saturday night, addressing a dinner in his honour hosted by the commander of the Third Army Corps, Lt-Gen. Efstathios Stratakos at the Officers' Club in Thessaloniki.
Papoulias said that the teachings of national anniversaries were always timely, stressing that "they shwo heroism, preparation and a high level of military movements".
The determination and self-sacrifice manifested by the country's Armed Forces both during the First Balkan War and during the resistance against the Italian fascism went above and beyond their oath of faith to the homeland and the call of duty, the President said.
Today, he continued, the Armed Forces were a strong factor of stability, security and peace in the wider region, and comprised the guarantee of the Greek citizens' defence and security.
But they also played a social role of exceptional importance, and were at the forefront not only when the country was facing adversitites but also when the Greek society needed them, Papoulias added.
The President later attended an event marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of Thessaloniki's Macedonia University.
The event was also attended by national defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis, Macedonia-Thrace minister Margaritis Tzimas, deputy development minister St. Kalafatis, MPs, Thessaloniki mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and prefent Panayotis Psomiadis, and other officials.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis issued a message on the occasion of the October 28, 1940, national anniversary.
"The national anniversary of October 28, 1940, is a longstanding and timely reminder of our duty to continue with undiminishing determination the struggle for safeguarding our national independence and dignity and the constant upgrading of our democracy," the prime minister said in his message.
"The Greek women and men honour in practice the sacrifice of the fighters of the Second World War when we recognise the valuable teachings of history and we set them as criteria for our collective action. When we unite our efforts to turn into practice the vision that inspired our ancestors: a strong and prospering Greece. A proud Homeland that is inspiring respect all over the world today," he added.
The prime minister also stressed in his message that Greek women and men are now creating, with steadfast and determined steps, Greece for which the patriots of 1940 had sacrificed themselves, Greece that we are demanding for our children.
Source: Athens News Agency