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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-10-28

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Protests disrupt Oct. 28 parades throughout Greece

  • [01] Protests disrupt Oct. 28 parades throughout Greece

    AMNA -- The main military parade in Thessaloniki, held each year to celebrate the anniversary of Greece's defiance of Axis powers on October 28, 1940 and its subsequent victorious war against invading Fascist Italy, was cancelled for the first time in 71 years due to intense anti-government protests on Friday. President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias was forced to withdraw from the parade stand amid cries of 'traitors', accompanied shortly afterward by National Defence Minister Panos Beglitis, while similar incidents marked parades held in Athens and other major Greek cities.

    "I am deeply saddened. They should be ashamed. I came here to honour Thessaloniki and some people did not want the parade to take place. I fought for my country at 15. They cannot call me a traitor," Papoulias said in an angry statement to reporters shortly before his departure.

    The Thessaloniki parade was due to begin at 11:00 a.m. but was prevented from starting by protestors shouting slogans against politicians, who appeared on both sides of Megalou Alexandrou Avenue and occupied the centre of the road near the officials' stand, making it impossible for the parade to pass.

    Similar scenes were played out in cities throughout Greece, including the large parade by school students held in the centre of Athens, where one school paraded with black ribbons of protest and others turned their faces away from Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and other officials on the stand. AMNA

    They were joined by the Athens municipality's Philharmonic Orchestra, which had tied black ribbons of protest to all their instruments in spite of a threat from Athens Mayor George Kaminis that anyone choosing this form of protest would face disciplinary action and possible dismissal.

    Protests led to the cancellation, interruption or delay of parades, the port city of Patras, the Ionian island of Corfu, Tripoli, Nafplion, Trikala, Iraklio, Veria and Kalamata, where officials were also pelted with tomatos and eggs.

    In many areas, apart from protests, students taking part showed their displeasure with the government by pointedly turning their faces away from the officials on the stand, looking instead toward the crowd or groups of veterans. AMNA

    Government condemns protests at parades

    The protests and incidents at parades throughout the country were categorically condemned by the government later in the day, with government spokesman Ilias Mossialos calling them an 'insult' to the holiday and an attempt to undermine democratic institutions. He also stressed that the great majority of the parades took place as normal.

    Prime Minister George Papandreou contacted President Papoulias on the telephone and expressed his sorrow at the events in Thessaloniki, stressing that these insulted the national struggles of the Greek people and undermined democratic institutions.

    The president, on his part, stressed that those protesting in this manner "should be ashamed of themselves" and dismissed them as a "small unacceptable minority".

    "The Greek people understand where this is going and for this reason accepts all these pressures and all these measures that are at the expense of the weakest and most vulnerable. They believe that a better day will dawn. This is what we all believe and this is why we are here," he added.

    In a later written statement, he again attacked those responsible for the incidents and said that they had abused the right to protest and exceeded the clear boundary between "a state of law and a social organisation without rules, without democratic foundation".

    "Are those who treat public areas as their property democrats? And how is a majority counted? Through participation in demonstrations of protest or through elections that, based on the Constitution, are held every four years?" he asked.

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