On the occasion of OXI Day, the great national holiday of Greece, when it celebrates the resounding “NO!” uttered by its Prime Minister to Mussolini’s forces on October 28, 1940, the Greek President and Prime Minister spoke at events and addressed the public on the challenges the country faces in our modern times.
History teaches the Greek people that Greece “becomes stronger and overcomes every obstacle when it is united,” Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said from Thessaloniki on Wednesday.
The national holiday celebrates the refusal of the Greek government to grant permission to Italy to enter Greek territory in 1940, leading to Greece’s invasion by Mussolini’s Italy and its eventual occupation by Nazi Germany.
Calling the event “one of the most outstanding moments of Greek history,” Sakellaropoulou described Greece as “a small nation that defied the military superiority of the Axis powers sweeping through Europe, standing tall and deflecting the fascist invasion.”
Greece, she said, “chose the right side of history, defended liberty, justice and human values against the barbarity of fascism and the violence of nazism, overcame fear, fought valiantly under the worst possible conditions and gained the admiration of the entire world.”
That event still inspires Greeks, the president declared. Today, under difficult circumstances, in the midst of a pandemic and tensions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, the event, she stated, serves as a model of solidarity, unity and national self-confidence.
“History teaches us that our homeland becomes stronger and overcomes everyobstacle when it is united,” she added.
As the president of Greece lay a wreath at the Heroes Monument at the 3rd Army Battalion in Thessaloniki, Air Force jets, followed by helicopters, flew over the city.
At the Greek naval base in Souda Bay, Chania, on the island of Crete, Prime Minister Mitsotakis declared that the country must now mobilize the same virtues “that made Greece great even then” to meet today’s challenges, in his address on the national holiday of OXI Day.
While visiting with sailors at the naval base, where he was to meet with the crew of the submarine “Katsonis,” the PM said that “Today, our country faces different challenges than it did 80 years ago.”
However, he continued, “even today we must mobilize “national unity, morale, a high sense of personal responsibility and sense of solidarity — all these elements that allowed Greece to write its own Epic 80 years ago.
“We need to mobilize them now, to face the double challenges of challenging our sovereignty and sovereign rights but also the great challenge of dealing with the pandemic.
The Prime Minister referred to the 80th anniversary of the firm “No!” uttered by the Greek Prime Minister in 1940, saying that “then the Greeks, united, fought against fascism, with weapons. Eighty years later, it was defeated by the rule of law and the power of our democracy, sending nostalgia for fascism and Nazism to prison.
He expressed his happiness that he was given the opportunity to be in Souda and to talk to the crew of the submarine “Katsonis” and on behalf of all the Greek people, conveying their gratitude and warm thanks for their great degree of operational readiness, which they have demonstrated in practice over the last two months.
“Our state-of-the-art submarines are the invisible and silent shields that defend our sovereign rights, and I assure you that they do so with utmost professionalism,” PM Mitsotakis said.
“As we are facing the second wave of the pandemic to remember the words of George Theotokas, who 80 years ago, writing about October 28, said he was impressed by the activation of the Greek philotimos and this unprecedented feeling of national unity.
“As we face other challenges, let us remember these words again. I am absolutely sure that with a sense of unity, high individual and social responsibility and collectivity, we will be able to face this crisis and emerge victorious again.”