At all costs, despite the small number of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 80th anniversary of Oxi Day (No Day) was celebrated at military cemeteries in Northern Epirus (Southern Albania) in events organized by the Greek Embassy in Tirana together with the Albanian government.
The events took place in the two military cemeteries for Greek soldiers killed fighting in Northern Epirus in 1940 against the Italian invasion attempt of Greece that was launched from Albania.
The events took place at the military cemeteries in Kleisoura (Κλεισουρα, Albanian: Këlcyrë) and Vouliarates (Βουλιαράτες, Albanian: Bularat).
The Greek government was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantinos Vlasis and the Albanian government was represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Albanian Army, Brigadier General Manousakeh Sehou, and the Governor of Argyrokastro (Αργυρόκαστρο, Albanian: Gjirokastër), Odysseas Kote.
Due to the pandemic, the hundreds of relatives and friends of the fallen were absent this year, who were replaced in the honoring by members of the Greek national minority in Albania.
Welcoming those present at the two cemeteries, Vlasis praised the heroism of the Greeks in World War II. He also referred to Turkish provocations, pointing out that Greece does not bow down and does not retreat.
Addressing members of the Greek national minority, he said they should be proud to live in these lands, adding: "You are not alone."
Vlasis thanked the Albanian government for the cooperation in the implementation of the 2009 agreement for the search, exhumation, identification and burial of the fallen Greek soldiers.
"Happy celebrations to everyone from the legendary alley of Kleisoura, where our ancestors fought to the end holding our flag high! Like today, the Greeks said the Big "NO" and taught the whole world what courage means," he wrote in a post on social media.
"Today we honor the memory of all those who fought as heroes so that we can live free and we must keep alive the values they bequeathed to us. We Greeks do not bow down and we do not give up! We Greeks stand strong in the face of the challenges of the times! Long live the 28th of October 1940! Cheer for the nation!" he added.
The governor of Argyrokastro conveyed his government's commitment to continue close cooperation in the implementation of the above agreement.
It should be noted that 130 sites have been located in Albanian territory where there are graves of Greek victims from World War II. At ten points in the region of Argyrokastro, detection is carried out with modern machines. So far, the bones of more than 1,300 military personnel and civilian victims have been buried in the two cemeteries.
Wreaths were laid in honor of the Greek heroes in the military cemeteries by the officials of the two countries and the local authorities of the Greek national minority.