NEWS

Massive security operation being set up for Erdogan visit to Greece

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy

A major security operation is being set up in the Greek capital ahead of a planned visit to the country by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday and Friday.

The Citizens’ Protection Ministry is hosting the final meeting between Greek law enforcement authorities and the heads of Erdogan’s security detail on Tuesday to finalize plans for what is the first visit to Greece of a Turkish president in 65 years.

Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas on Monday chaired a meeting between the two sides to discuss the broad strokes of the plan, as well as the details of Erdogan’s entourage. According to sources, the Turkish president will be coming to Greece with a security detail of 200 officers. More than 60 Turkish officers have been in Athens since Monday and another 60 or so in Komotini, where Erdogan plans to meet with representatives of the Muslim minority on Friday.

From the Greek side, the Hellenic Police (ELAS) will be dispatching 2,800 officers to guard the Turkish president, including EKAM special forces and bomb disposal experts. Snipers will also be posted all along Erdogan’s route, while motorists should brace themselves for delays and traffic jams, as his motorcade will be given strict priority.

All protest rallies and marches have been banned in Athens for the duration of his visit.

Increased security is also being necessitated by concerns over the possibility of violence on Wednesday, which marks the ninth anniversary since the killing in 2008 of school student Alexis Grigoropoulos by an off-duty police officer.

Two rallies have been planned in downtown Athens to commemorate the event, which sparked violent riots, at 12 noon and at 6 p.m., though ELAS is more focused on securing the Exarchia area, where the shooting took place.

Some 2,500 police and riot officers have been assigned to guard the Greek capital on Wednesday.

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