Fighter jets flew by the ancient Acropolis and tanks rumbled past parliament in central Athens on Thursday as Greece’s celebrations for the bicentenary of its war of independence culminated in a military parade attended by dignitaries from Britain, France and Russia but no members of the public.
Greece invited dignitaries from Russia, France and Britain, the great powers that had provided vital assistance to the nation’s bid for independence from the Ottoman Empire, to attend the celebrations marking 200 years since the start of the Greek rebellion.
Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, and French Defense Minister Florence Parly were in Athens for the events, along with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
Charles, Mishustin, Parly and Anastasiades laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside parliament before the start of the military parade, which included a mounted cavalry section and marching troops from the army, navy and air force, as well as the police, fire department and coast guard.
Fighter planes and helicopters flew in formation above central Athens — they included a U.S. Air Force plane, French Rafale jets and Britain’s Royal Air Force Voyager aircraft in which Prince Charles flew to Greece, the Union Jack emblazoned on its tail.
Unable to watch the parade in person, many Athenians came out onto balconies in the center of the city to watch the flyby.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis kicked off Thursday’s celebrations by attending the raising of the Greek flag on the Acropolis.
“Two centuries ago, a handful of determined fighters within and outside Greece, raised the banner of independence. They set in motion a process the end of which not even they themselves could have dreamed of. With the help of their allies, they fought heroically and won their freedom,” Mitsotakis said in a speech.
Throughout Greece’s history as an independent nation “we have lived through moments of triumph and of pain. Wise decisions, but also great mistakes,” he said. “But in all of humanity’s great tribulations our land was always on the right side of history.”
Mitsotakis noted that this year’s Independence Day was “unique, but also different, as it finds us in the final battle with the pandemic. With great difficulties, but with victory now visible. Besides, our national vaccination campaign is named Freedom.”
In an address via Greek television, US President Joe Biden said both the United States and Greece “shared commitment to liberty, human rights and the rule of law.”
French President Emmanuel Macron sent a message to Athens that “we will stand by your side when history is unfair to you.”
Sourced By: AP News