NEWS

Protesters aim for summit venue

Greek anti-globalization groups vowed yesterday to try to reach the Halkidiki resort where European heads of state and government are to assemble under an intense security umbrella at the end of next week for the biannual EU summit. Representatives of the Greek Social Forum formation of anti-globalization and anti-capitalist groups told a press conference in Athens that some 100,000 protesters were expected to converge for the June 20-21 summit on Thessaloniki, where the government has promised to provide them with free accommodation in tent cities. «We will not put up with red zones, harassment by armed police officers and use of [tear gas]» a spokesman said, adding that the target of a planned demonstration on Friday, June 20, will be to reach the Porto Carras hotel complex where the summit will take place, some 150 kilometers (93 miles) southeast of Thessaloniki. He added that protesters will engage in «social disobedience» rather than seeking out a confrontation. Some 12,000 police officers will be on duty in Thessaloniki and Porto Carras, near the village of Neos Marmaras, from June 19-22. The summit venue, which will also be guarded by coast guards and special forces, will be off limits to protesters, together with certain parts of Thessaloniki. Protesters are planning to reach Neos Marmaras at noon on June 20, while a demonstration will be held the following day in Thessaloniki. Yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis discussed summit security with Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis. In Thessaloniki, Minister for Macedonia and Thrace Giorgos Paschalidis said ministry officials have already started erecting tents for an estimated 30,000 people in three sites in the northern city. He said all Thessaloniki hospitals will be on alert from June 19-21.