Protesters rally but fail to scale Olympus

Protests against the US-led war in Iraq continued over the weekend in several Greek cities, with some protesters also targeting what they consider government complicity in the war. The largest march took place in Athens on Saturday, with an estimated 50,000 protesters taking part. Yesterday, two marches targeted NATO installations, a regional headquarters in Tyrnavos, central Greece, and the naval base at Souda Bay in Crete. Another plan, to place a 1,200-square-meter banner high up on Mount Olympus did not materialize due to bad weather, but organizers said they would try again. Early on Saturday, a grenade exploded outside a McDonalds restaurant in the Athens suburb of Nea Ionia. No one was injured. The Greek government has taken a cautious stance on the war, not wanting to antagonize the United States. Yesterday, however, two senior government ministers, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos did voice criticism in separate newspaper interviews. Tsochadzopoulos, Papantoniou’s predecessor at defense, was more explicit, saying that Greece should ally itself with France and Germany. In a public speech yesterday in Thessaloniki, he also said that the USA had «overstepped the bounds of international legality.»

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