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The season of protests will be open at the fair in Thessaloniki

08 September 2011 / 16:09:59  GRReporter
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As every year, this September too, the whole of Greece is looking at Thessaloniki. Traditionally, at the opening of the international fair in the city, the Prime Minister announces the economic policy guidelines of the country.

However, this is the only traditional event. If you are planning to visit Thessaloniki in the next few days, it is probably better to opt out of this intention. On Saturday, when the Prime Minister George Papandreou will open the international fair, the city will resemble an impregnable fortress that will be surrounded by thousands of protesters.

Over 7,000 police officers coming from across the country will protect the area around the convention centre "Ioannis Velidis" where the Prime Minister will make his speech to business representatives. According to some sources, the police will be deployed in a way similar to the plan applied during the European summit in 2003.

The protests against the government policy will start from Friday. Policemen, firefighters, coastguards and emergency aid officers will gather at 17:30 at the monument of Eleftherios Venizelos on Egnatia Street to hold a procession. A little later, at 20:00, the discontented will organize a concert on the square in front of the White Tower.

Various media comment that the location of the groups of protesters gives an additional headache to the authorities. This is because besides the traditional processions of representatives of various occupations, which are expected to be particularly large, the protests of the discontented are considered unpredictable this year.

They have already announced their intention to surround and block the entrances to the fairgrounds and for this purpose, they will gather at three different locations: in front of the White Tower, in front of the Scout organization on Vasileos Georgiou Street and in front of the former military hospital. At 17:00, the discontented will hold a procession by motorcycles and cars, which will begin from the west side of the city and will go through the centre to reach the White Tower.

At 18:00, taxi owners from all over Greece will gather at Ivanofio hall and will hold a procession to the fairgrounds. The fans of the Iraklis football club will gather several meters away, in front of the closed Katsanio Basketball Hall, to protest against the team’s falling in the second group.

At the same time, the two large unions of public and private sector employees GSEE and ADEDY will hold a rally at the monument of Eleftherios Venizelos. Then the participants will head for the procession to the fairgrounds. Their protest will involve the Thessaloniki Workers Centre and the union of civil servants organizations.

The rally of the trade unions of communists PAME is scheduled for 18:00, on Aristotle Square. The arch of Galerius is the meeting point of the members of leftist non-parliamentary organizations and the anarchists.

Student organizations will start their procession from the courtyard of the Polytechnic School and will join the protest of the discontented.

In an attempt to deal with the protests, the police will install for the first time in Thessaloniki the metal and plexiglass fence, which they used during the violent protests in Athens in July. The fence is 2.2 m high and is strong enough to withstand the pressure from the demonstrators. With its help, the police hope to prevent anyone to get close to the convention center, where the Prime Minister will speak.

Parking within several kilometers around the fairgrounds is already prohibited. A few days ago, the municipal authorities removed dustbins to prevent arson. On Saturday, the movement of vehicles from east to west through the city centre will be strictly prohibited.

While the residents of Thessaloniki express their dissatisfaction with the fact that the police literally have take over the city, the mayor Yiannis Boutaris appealed for peaceful protest processions.

According to commentators, Thessaloniki would hardly avoid serious collisions. They state that some of the anarchists are already in the region of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, following the occupations held against the new law on higher education.


Tags: SocietyPoliticsProtestsInternational fairThessalonikiGeorge PapandreouPoliceTrade unionsDiscontentedProcessionsFence
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