For the first time since 2011, Greeks celebrate Independence Day and enjoy the school students and military parades without barriers. The new Greek government decision to remove barriers and allow people to attend the parades at close range has a strong symbolism aiming to demonstrate that neither the government is afraid of protests nor the people feel the need to protest austerity.
Crowds of people joined the school students’ parade yesterday and the military parade in downtown Athens today. No stiff lip, no riot police around, no metro stations closed to public.
Crowds were banned from coming close to parades and dignitaries, after angry anti-government and anti-austerity protesters had booed the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias in Thessaloniki during the National Day parade in October 28th 2011.
After the parade, the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries mingled with the people and showed that they were not afraid of the citizens, of angry crowds and anti-government demonstrators.
President Prokopis Pavlopoulos greets war veterans
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras among the crowd.
Child in traditional uniform among the press corps
Police was there in “discrete presence” and certainly no riot police squads around.
Video: military parade
The festive mood continued with an open dance festival organized by the Athens Municipality and the Defence ministry.
The open festival with traditional folks music and several dancing groups from all over Greece met some criticism, not only due to the cost. But also because some people reckoned the time of the colonels’ junta, when the Greek traditional folks music was over-displayed to demonstrate nationalism.
Soldiers distribute Greek flags to the crowd.
Nevertheless, the rain that has been falling since the morning kind of spoiled the mood of social and political cohesion.