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Extreme rightists booed the government's military parade without combat equipment

25 March 2011 / 20:03:43  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova 

A solemn military parade in Athens marked the National Day of Greece. The financial crisis has hit even the official celebrations for the second consecutive year. So, in the parade to celebrate the 190th anniversary of the Greek uprising against the Ottoman rule neither combat equipment was presented, nor military aircraft flew in the sky over the Greek capital.

The President of Greece Karolos Papoulias laid a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and afterwards a short speech signaled the start of the parade. It was attended by representatives of all combat units in the Greek army. Military units, commandos, divers, special forces, firefighters and police officers marched to the rostrum with officials outside the parliament building. There were the Vice-President of the Greek government Theodoros Pangalos, the former Minister of Defence Evangelos Meimarakis from New Democracy, the President of the far-right party LAOS George Karadzaferis and two former presidents - Christos Sardzetakis and Kostis Stephanopoulos.

The celebration was held under strict security measures. Dozens of policemen surrounded the area from Othonos Street to Panepistimiou Avenue. The citizens who wanted to watch the parade were behind the police cordon.

After the parade, the President Karolos Papoulias thanked the veterans participating in the recent wars in the 20th century and closed the celebration. The politicians addressed messages on the occasion and started to leave, when some of the assembled people began to protest against them.

"Mercenaries", "thieves", "you sold our country", "this was not a parade" were some of the remarks the supporters of the far-right group Golden Dawn as well as ordinary citizens made. Waving Greek flags, they were shouting on the passing cars of the politicians, while the anti-riot forces were trying to make them retreat in a thoughtful and respectful manner.

Slogans from other people were heard but they were in the spirit of "we have a legitimately elected junta", "let's burn the parliament - that brothel", "this is the democratic government of PASOK, the dictator Ioannidis would only envy them", and far less exuberant.

The verbal attacks continued for some time under the gaze of the guests at the central hotel in Athens, who showed up on the balconies. Then the police removed the iron barriers and the spectators of the parade left.

Concerns that the parade could become the scene of attacks on people’s representatives were the reason for the increased police presence and for setting the platform with the officials at a safe distance from the audience. Three members of government, including the Prime Minister himself, had become the subject of public criticisms only last week. George Papandreou was booed by youths during his visit to the island of Syros. The government refuted allegations that the protesters were residents of the island and claimed that the young people were members of groups who travelled the country and organized protests against the ministers during their working visits to the countryside.

According to Theodoros Pangalos, who was attacked a few days ago with yoghurt cups in his election area near the Greek capital, the youths are members of the left parliamentary coalition SYRIZA. The Minister of Culture and Tourism Pavlos Geroulanos became the object of attacks yesterday during an event held in the hall of the European Parliament in Brussels.

During the speech of the former president of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Petering on the occasion of 2500 years since the Marathon Battle, members of the group "Initiative for solidarity with Greece, which resists," came into the hall and one of them asked to be given the floor for three minutes. PASOK MEP Hrisoula Paliadeli, who organized the event, refused him. Then the group of protesters stretched a poster, reading "Barbarians of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, listen well, the peoples of Europe rise again."

The demonstrator that had asked the floor expressed in fluent English the support of the group to the protests of the Keratea residents against the construction of a landfill near the village. Thus, he incurred the wrath of the former Minister of Agriculture Catherine Badzeli who attended the event and turned to him with the words "Shame on you, you are a young man."

Objects of verbal attacks and whistling in recent days became also the Minister of Employment and Social Security Luoka Katseli and the Deputy Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Nikos Sifounakis.




Tags: PoliticsSocietyNational DayMilitary paradeProtestsExtreme rightistsGolden dawn
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