The Greek Press Today
© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
27 October, 2006
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias arrived in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Thursday to attend three-day celebrations marking the feast day of the city's patron saint, Aghios Demetrius (St. Demetrius), the anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule (1912) and the anniversary of Greece's entry into WWII (1940).
At noon, Papoulias laid a wreath at a memorial to a war hero near the city eponymous White Tower.
President Karolos Papoulias attended an event held at the Aristotelio University's auditorium in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Thursday, commemorating the city's Patron Saint Demetrius, the 94th anniversary of the city's liberation and the October 28 national holiday.
Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Thursday said that the October 28 anniversary was an opportunity to recollect the heroic events of 1940, including Greece's defiant 'no' to the Axis powers, its victory against invading Italian forces and Greek resistance during the Nazi occupation of WWII.
She noted that honor was due to tiny Greece and its few inhabitants, which in the midst of a worldwide conflagration had dared to once again declare their allegiance to freedom and pit themselves against the mighty Axis forces.
At the same time, the anniversary was also an opportunity to consider the world today, the racial and social conflicts that smoldered in Greece's immediate neighborhood and the human rights that were being eroded in the face of violence and terrorism, she said.
"Only Europe, with its long history of culture and values, appears to be fighting the right fight for peace, freedom and humanity. Despite the many difficulties in its path toward unification, Europe is capable of closing the wounds of the past, learning from its mistakes, choosing the path of cooperation and solidarity to counteract division and violence. We also are a part of this great family and we are called on to play an important role inspired by our own history and the struggles of the previous generations," Psarouda-Benaki's message notes.
The Parliament president ended her message with a call to remember the importance of unity and what Greece could achieve as a nation when everyone worked together for a common purpose.
Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, in a message on the occasion of the October 28 national holiday, said on Thursday that the "No" of 1940 (the rejection of an Italian ultimatum by Greece and the ensuing war) confirmed the tradition of the Greeks' love for the motherland and adherence to the non-negotiable value of freedom.
"The Greeks fought in adverse conditions with determination and courage. They fought for freedom, independence, justice, dignity, democracy and human rights," he said.
"Greece achieved a great deal in the years that followed. It developed, it acquired self-confidence, it joined the European Union, acquired new horizons and became respected internationally. Its value was recognized," he added.
Papandreou further said that "today, Greece is living peacefully and is developing creative relations with its neighbors. However, the Greek feels that the strength of our country is being spent, the wealth of the country is being squandered, its prestige is being weakened and the economy is not performing its social role."
On its part, the Communist Party issued a message referring to the "people's no" in the face of Italian fascism and imperialism during WWII, while referring to the present by again stressing the party's unequivocal opposition to the creation of private, non-profit universities in the country.
"The best honor for this year's commemoration by workers and the working classes is to rally together side by side with pupils, students and teachers: No to a revision of Article XVI (preventing non-state universities); no to education that serve the profits of business people..." the KKE message.
, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) on Thursday hailed Greece's historic 'no' vis-à-vis an Axis demand on October 28, 1940 and Greece's struggle against fascism and for national independence during WWII.
It also noted that the Greek-Italian conflict in Albania, where Greece repelled an Axis invasion, was also followed by the major struggle of the Greek resistance:
"The Greek people were among the first in sacrifices during the anti-fascist struggle and their contribution was important to the anti-fascist victory and the liberation of Europe from fascism. The 'no' of 1940 is a source of inspiration today, especially for the younger generation, which must keep alive the historic memory of the national resistance and the visions for a free country and peace for all mankind," the party's message said.
Source: Athens News Agency