Greece on Friday celebrated the anniversary of the 1821 War of Independence from Ottoman rule, with a grand military parade taking place in downtown Athens and a student parade in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
Presiding over the ceremony at Syntagma Square in front of Parliament was Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Also present were parliamentary speaker Nikos Voutsis, Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos and New Democracy opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, among other political leaders.
“All Greeks motivated by the ideals of democracy have a duty, now more than ever, to put aside whatever differences we may have for the good of the interests of the nation and our people, to raise a united front of mutual responsibility in order to successfully resist the great challenges of the times and to ensure a better future for Greece and the younger generations of Greeks,” Pavlopoulos said in his address.
The president also made reference to the immigration crisis, saying that “faithful to the ancient Greek example of our forefathers’ behavior towards supplicants and also the Christian principles of love and solidarity, we Greeks see view the refugees through the terms of humanity.”
He also spoke about the “latest abhorrent terrorist attack on the heart of Europe, in Brussels,” saying that terrorists are regarded as “cold-blooded criminals and enemies of humanity, revolting servants of the new barbarity.”
In closing, Pavlopoulos called on Greece’s partners in the European Union to “respect in full the union’s founding principles and values, and to act in regards to the refugee crisis in accordance with its spiritual, political and legal culture, isolating, with the imposition of sanctions if necessary, the extreme choices of partners possessed by phobic anti-humanitarian and anti-democratic syndromes.”