The seventieth anniversary of the Greek ‘no’ to the Italians and its victory over Italian forces in Albania was marked with commemorations and parades across Greece on Thursday.

Ohi Day on October 28 is a national holiday in Greece, marking the anniversary of the country’s refusal of a 1940 ultimatum made by Italy’s Fascist leader Benito Mussolini to allow his forces to enter and occupy Greek territory. The action marked the start of Greece’s military participation in WWII.

This year the national holiday was celebrated without tanks and jets as the Greek state scaled back the annual military parade because of the country’s acute financial crisis.

“We have the historic duty to secure for the young generation the right to a dignified life,” President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said in a message on the anniversary.

The President of the Republic, who traditionally inspects the military parade in Thessaloniki on Ohi Day, was absent this year due to a viral infection that forced him to cancel his visit.

In his message, Papoulias noted that Greece “is at a critical turning point”, and “crossing over is our duty to today’s 18-year-olds who are beginning their journey with the weight of the debt on their shoulders and are called on to pay a bill for which they have no blame”.

“The faster we rid ourselves of this burden, the faster the collective conscience will ease,” he added.

In his message on the anniversary, Prime Minister George Papandreou drew a comparison between Greece’s “resounding ‘NO'” to subjugation to the Axis forces, which led to the war with “today when Greece is once again waging a difficult battle”, stressing that “we are already starting to win this battle, with hard work, sacrifices and great difficulties”.

Papandreou expressed his conviction that “as in every critical time in our history, we will succeed today as well.”

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, in his own message, said that “in this difficult period of economic crisis, we are inspired by the example” of the events being commemorated. “We can take the country out of today’s gloom and ensure a new prospect of recovery and hope,” Samaras concluded.

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that 70 years after the historic Ohi, “the modern-day content of patriotism identifies with the organisation and battle of the working class and popular strata for the bankruptcy of the plutocracy, and not the people, for the popular alliance, in order to pave the way for popular authority.”

The Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza said that every era requires its own “Ohi”. “Today, we say Ohi to every kind of intervention, to the dissolution of the social state, to the razing of labor relations, to the Memorandum of social and economic bankruptcy, to racism and xenophobia, to the ecological destruction of the planet.”

Defence minister Evangelos Venizelos, who represented the government at the Thessaloniki parade, said that the crisis is an opportunity and that, “through political stability, social cohesion and national unity, we will succeed and we will win the wager”.

“Today, we honour and celebrate the Greece that deserves to be proud, the Greece that has proven historically that it knows what national sovereignty and national dignity is,” he said, adding that such anniversaries “also teach us, the present-day Greeks, and demand of us to be united, responsible and forward-looking.”

Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos) MP Kyriakos Velopoulos, speaking after the parade, expressed conviction that “today, united, we can win this different ‘war’.”

Source: Athens News