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More policemen than spectators at the military parade

25 March 2013 / 17:03:19  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

For the third consecutive year, the military parade on the occasion of the National Day of Greece involved only representatives of different types of troops. The crisis had made the organizers leave the war machines in the military establishments and only soldiers, firefighters, divers, policemen and sailors marched past the representatives of the political and military leadership.

First were the veterans of the wars in the 20th century, whose number has been decreasing with every passing year, followed by the ranks of the presidential guard of honour. President Carlos Papoulias, Chairman of Parliament Evangelos Meimarakis, Minister of Defence Panos Panagiotopoulos, representatives of political parties and the Church greeted them from the stands.

On 25 March, Greece celebrates its independence. The Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire began in the area of Morea in the Peloponnese peninsula in 1821. The armed struggle continued until 1832, when the independent Kingdom of Greece was established under the Constantinople Peace Treaty. The involvement and support of the Great Powers, which took part in the conflict - the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain, played a crucial role in repulsing the Ottoman rule. The Greek struggle for independence inspired many Greek and foreign artists, writers and poets. An example of this is a fragment of the painting "The sortie of Mesolongi" by Theodoros Vryzakis, which depicts the heroic withdrawal of the besieged soldiers and civilians from the city, when they were no longer able to withstand the pressure of the Ottoman and Egyptian forces.

Today's parade took place under severe security measures. The underground station at Syntagma Square had been closed from early morning. The police had cut off a large area of the city centre around the square allowing only people with official invitations and accredited media representatives to move in the area around the monument of the Unknown Soldier. Over 4,000 members of various police forces were guarding the entire region and the few spectators were on the sidewalks behind the metal fence.

The security measures were draconian because of fears of accidents, especially in connection with the developments in Cyprus. About 20 members of composer Mikis Theodorakis’ movement "Spita" (Spark) were not late to appear at the bottom of the square. They were holding the Greek national flag in their hands and shouting slogans in support of Cyprus and against the politicians.

Several women wrapped in the national flag came down on the shields of the policemen, reproaching them for guarding the "members of the new junta that governs us" and for not allowing the ordinary people to the stands. The tension lasted only a few minutes and ended without accidents. Then, the participants sang the national anthem while songs of Mikis Theodorakis and others, which we know from the protests, were echoing from the loudspeakers.

Other individuals and members of left wing organizations, who had come to protest, joined "Spita". They were throwing leaflets with messages against the Greek government and its choice "to subject the country to the wishes of the Germans."

The parade ended without accidents and the protesters dispersed shortly afterwards. The spirits were higher elsewhere in Greece but there were no serious accidents anywhere.

In some cases, the participation of Golden Dawn in placing wreaths at the monuments of the perished provoked local reactions. In response, the party decided to organize a protest in front of one of the major private TV stations, namely Mega, against Turkish TV series broadcast on the day of the national celebration. "This action harms our history and the memory of the hundreds of thousands of our heroic ancestors," reads the message on the website of the far right.

Tags: PoliticsSocietyMilitary paradeNational dayPolice measuresProtest
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