Amid tight security, Athens parade held without major incident

The Independence Day parade in Athens passed off without any major incident on Sunday amid an extremely high police presence.

Some 4,000 police officers were on duty in central Athens and thousands more in other cities around the country as authorities feared that anti-austerity protesters would attempt to disrupt the parades.

Only minor incidents were reported in Athens, including an attempt by about 40 people to break through the police cordon. Police said that a total of 25 people were detained.

Politicians and other dignitaries were heckled by protesters at ceremonies in several cities, including Thessaloniki, where demonstrators disrupted the military parade on October 28 last year.

The parade in Iraklio, Crete, was disrupted when protesters clashed with police. Tear gas was reportedly used.

The March 25 parades are held to mark the beginning of the Greek uprising against Ottoman rule. President Karolos Papoulias, who attended the parade in Athens, made reference to the Greek Revolution in his Independence Day message.

He said that Greeks could beat the odds again by overcoming the economic crisis and generating greater solidarity from their European partners, just as they had done when they were fighting the Ottomans.

“Today, the Greek people are engaging in a tough battle,” he said. “All those years ago, nobody in civilized Europe could have imagined that the Greeks would have achieved a miracle.

“Just as then, so now we can succeed. With unity and compassion we will succeed.” 

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