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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-06

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] President Papoulias visits Florina

  • [01] President Papoulias visits Florina

    Ethnic differences are not inevitable causes for conflict, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Sunday, adding that the smaller issues, such as discord and intolerence, obscured the major issues, and in turbulent periods of time it became difficult to recognise the historic truth.

    Papoulias was speaking at the village of Kotta, in Krystallopighi, Florina prefecture, where he attended a memorial service marking the 100th anniversary of the death of the Macedonian fighter Kapetan Kottas.

    Kapetan Kottas was a Slavophone and was killed by a Turkish firing squad, and for whom the village is named.

    "A heavy legacy was left to us by Kapetan Kottas, the most significant figure on the eves of the Macedonian Struggle," Papoulias said.

    "When we remember this great personality, it is good to retain two things: That he was a Slavophone shows that ethnic differences are not inevitable causes for conflict, while his lamentable end by the Turkish firing squad, betrayed by his own fellow fighters, shows that many times in history the small things, discord and intollerence, kill the big things. Kapetan Kottas tragic end, which contributed much to Hellenism, teaches, beyoned everything else, that in turbulent periods in time recognition of the historic truth becomes difficult," Papoulias said during a luncheon held in his honour by Florina prefect Yannis Stratakis at the Officers' Club.

    Papoulias also referred to developments in the Balkans, in view of the efforts for finalising Kosovo's future status, noting that Greece believes in the European prospect of the Balkan countries and was working in that direction.

    On the occasion of the anniversary of Florina's liberation from Ottoman rule, he said the anniversary concides with a period of awaiting developments in the Balkan region, in view of the finalisation of the status of Kosovo. He said the Aimos peninsula had been sorely tried by civil strife, wars, racial and religious clashes, which are, naturally, not attributed to elements of the Balkan mentality, as is often said, but rather to a tough battle between foreign powers for the distribution of power and influence.

    "We honestly believe in the European prospect of all the Balkan countries, and are working for the conversion of our neighbourhood into a region of peaceful coexistence and cooperation, prosperity and progress. The European path is the only way for upgrading the quality of life of the Balkan peoples and the consolidation of stability. This path pases through respect of the rules and principles of the European Union. It will perhaps be a long and difficult path, but I am certain that its final destination mobilises and inspires the Balkan societies," Papoulias said.

    Addressing the President, Stratakis stressed that the Florina region was the last region in Greece that was still paying the consequences of the civil war. He said there was still an outstanding matter with the political refugees living in FYROM who could not return to Greece, and called for a solution.

    Greece, he said, had nothing to fear from a few elderly men who wished to return to be buried in the homeland, and proposed that this chapter be closed with the erection of a monument of National Reconciliation.

    Stratakis also said that the prefecture of Florina was suffering negative repercussions from the outstanding FYROM name issue, which were visible at economic level and in the movement of people and goods. "Florina needs immediate measures that will boost the region's economy and give it prospects for growth," he added.

    Earlier, Papoulias laid a wreath at the monument of Kapetan Kottas, after which he was given a tour of the hero's home, which has been turned into a museum, by Kottas' great-granddaughter Zoe Kotta.

    Also present at the memorial were Macedonia-Thrace minister Nikos Tsiartsonis, MPs Nikos Kortsaris, Anestis Angelis, George Lianis, and Philippos Petsalnikos, western Macedonia regional chief Andreas Leoudis, Florina prefect Yannis Stratakis, and Florina mayor Stefanos Papanastasiou.

    He also inaugurated an exhibition of paintings and documents related to Florina's liberation from the Turkish yoke at the "Aristotelis" Cultural Association building.

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