Strong political confrontation broke out in Greece after protesters insulted the President of the Greek Republic, Karolos Papoulias, and enforced the cancellation of the October 28th – OXI Day military parade in Thessaloniki. After the protesters insisted on hindering the stat of the parade, a visible angry and deeply insulted President decided to leave the VIP podium. The military parade was cancelled for the first time in its history. The strong disapproval to the person of Karolos Papoulias, triggered anger and turmoil in the political arena, as it was understood as insulting the institution of the Presidency and marked disrespect for the fallen heroes of the war against the forces of Axis in 1940 and the National Resistance.
At the same time, in many cities across the country angry parade spectators not only hurled oranges, lemons, tomatoes and eggs against politicians, in same cased they chased them and even beat some of state officials and ruling party deputies.
“I am very sorry, it’s a shame. I came to honor the city. It is shameful to hear such offensive messages. It’s a shame to call me ‘traitor’ when I fought for the homeland; at the age of 15 I was a resistance fighter against the NAZIs and the German occupation forces” visibly moved Papoulias talk reporters while he was departing the parade.
Shortly after, Karolos Papoulias issued a written statement, wondering whether tarnishing a national anniversary is a patriotic act.
“What happened today in Thessaloniki is an opportunity to pause awhile and ponder: Patriots are those who denigrate a national anniversary? Fighters are those who offend? He is right the one who shouts more? Democrats who use public space as their property? And how do you measure the majority ? By participating in demonstrations or elections that under the Constitution, are held every four years? There is the right and its abuse, there is the righteous wrath and its degeneration, there is a clear boundary between a well-governed state and a social organization without rules, without a democratic basis. I make these observations believing that the exit of our country from the crisis is not just about numbers, but the affair deeply political, deeply cultural.”
The protests against the President triggered storm of responses by the political parties condemning the insults.
Video: Papoulias leaving the parade
Prime Minister George Papandreou described as “authoritarianism the efforts by some to impose their opinion”.
Major opposition party Nea Dimokratia, Antonis Samaras condemning ‘those who hurt our national anniversary” added “the government follows embarrassed the social unrest caused by the governmental policies.”
Far -right LAOSrequested the resignation of Minister for Citizens’ Protection Christos Papoutsis for not ordering the police to crack down the protests.
Greek Communist Party (KKE) said the protests were fully justified “demonstrating how big is the popular anger and opposition to government policies”.
Left-wing SYRIZAcondemned the protests against the President and dismissed claims it was this party that initiating them. In a statement yesterday described the protests as a “pandemic and spontaneous action of the people of Thessaloniki against the official government representatives”. Here is to mention, that Karolos Papoulias is a former PASOK minister.
The majority of political parties blamed the SYRIZA for initiating the protests, even though spectators joined the protesters in an unorthodox protest-parade.
Video: protest parade
And yet, a real sensation caused by the man who took down the NAZI flag from the Acropolis, a resistance fighter and historic official of the Greek Left, Manolis Glezos. “The people of Thessaloniki restored the meaning of October 28th, [by saying NO to the powers of occupation in our modern times]” said Glezos, stunning politicians and public alike. This morning speaking to state NET television, Glezos said that ‘the protests were a triple insult: an insult to the heroes of the 1940-war, an insult to the fighter Papoulias and an insult to all citizens.” However Glezos criticized the president for leaving the parade saying “he should have taken his feelings under control”. And not only. Glezos expressed criticism towards Papouliasand said “it is improper for him to cover with his stature” the governmental policies. Glezos requested “elections in order to release the country and the democracy from the dead-end”.
Video Glezos in Greek
In recent past there have been many voices urging the President to call early elections.
Greece’s political arena is in a mood for “war” and blames are flying against all fronts. The government and some conservative parties accuse left-parties for the protests and yet, some deputies seem to have understood the people’s message very clearly. Apart the protests in Thessaloniki, in many cities across the country protesters and angry parade spectators not only hurled oranges, lemons, tomatoes and eggs against politicians, they chased them away from the VIP podiums and in some cases even chased them through the streets.
In Trikala man beat with his fists ruling party MP Christos Magkoufis. In contrast to general belief, the attacker was a member of PASOK.
Video: man beats MP
Are these the “social unrests” we were warned of?