President Karolos Papoulias arrived in the mountain village of Tseritsena in the Ioannina region at noon on Saturday and laid a wreath at the Memorial dominating the village.

"A message for all of us. A sincere patriotism places us in the struggle to enable us to overcome every crisis and every difficulty. And we shall succeed," President Papoulias said, referring to the struggle of Epirus women who carried the cannons of the Greek army in 1913 for the siege of Bizani and the liberation of Ioannina.

President Papoulias laid a wreath after a memorial service and watched a video-documentary of the period.

The event opened three-day celebrations marking the 98th anniversary of the liberation of Ioannina. The events will be continued on Sunday and concluded on Monday with a big parade in the centre of the city.

President Papoulias on public property

President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, speaking in the northern city of Ioannina during an official dinner given in his honour on Sunday night, said "our country is at a crucial turning point. We are paying for the mistakes of decades and the failure of European leaderships to rise to the occasion."

President Papoulias also referred to the issue of the public sector's property, stressing that "Grek public property is not registered to a considerable degree and trespassed to a criminal degree. Its utilisation, as well as that of real estate to be found abroad is an imperative need. We are pretending to be blind when we exhaust ourselves on theoritical discussions, danger talk, slogan-making, witchhunts and barren confrontations. We lose valuable time and powers."

President deplores violence in sport

President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday deplored instances of violence in sport during a message read out in Ioannina, during a basketball friendly taking place in Ioannina's indoor stadium between Greek national team veterans and veterans of the Spanish club Barcelona.

"All of us that love sport, who love the virtues and ideals of sport, must range ourselves against violence in stadiums. It is unacceptable that a small minority can cause incidents that blacken sports as a whole. We say 'no' to violence in stadiums," he emphasised.

Papoulias was speaking at a ceremony held to honour his contribution to sport on the sidelines of the game, in which the Greek side emerged victorious with a score of 77-70. Referees in the game were Health and Social Solidarity Minister Andreas Loverdos and Deputy Health Minister Christos Aidonis.

Both ministers also condemned violence linked to sports during statements at the event and encouraged young people to exercise.