Greek Independence Day commemorated with annual military parade through downtown Athens

Monday, 25 March 2019 14:48
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Greek Independence Day was celebrated around the east Mediterranean country and by ethnic Greek communities around the world on Monday, the 198th anniversary of an uprising against dour Ottoman rule, with a customary military parade held in central Athens.

The day has a double significance in the country, as March 25 also marks a major religious holiday, the Feast of the Annunciation, in the predominately Christian Orthodox nation.

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos presided over the parade from a grandstand in front of Parliament, on Syntagma square, with perfect springtime weather conditions in the Greek capital allowing for a large turnout.

Moreover, despite concerns that this year's parade in Athens, as well as others around the provinces, would witness protests and disruptions due to the recently signed and implemented Prespa agreement, only sporadic heckling was reported, mostly against office-holders representing the government.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras again picked an isolated location to commemorate Greek Independence Day, this year travelling to a small and sparsely populated eastern Aegean islet, Agathonisi, to observe a parade by the isle's pupils. Agathonisi lies close to the opposite Turkish coast.

"Today, we feel pride for the great ideals of the 1821 revolution, the values of enlightenment," he said, while adding, in a more patriotic tone that he has employed in the past, that:

 "I could not have chosen a more significant location for my presence today... I arrived at a far corner of Greece, where the country's heart beats, where the blue-and-white (Greek flag) flies, where you guard the Thermopylae (country's borders)," he told local residents.

 Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis also chose an eastern Aegean island location, far from any big city, to commemorate the March 25 commemoration, arriving on the island of Limnos.

 "Today we're commemorating the beginning of a courageous revolution, which eventually led to the creation of the modern Greek state," he said.

In a message referring more to the present, he added:

"Above all, the country needs to again grasp the thread of a healthy patriotism; one that unites; a patriotism that promotes the concept of  responsibility, truth, and primary, hard work," he said.  


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