Anti-summit will be kept from leaders

Aside from the EU summit, Thessaloniki and Neos Marmaras are bracing for an «anti-summit»  of anti-globalization, anti-EU and anti-US protesters which organizers say could bring 100,000 demonstrators to the region. Local authorities have promised camping facilities, meeting halls and bus transportation for the protesters in a bid to prevent violence similar to that which accompanied summits of the G-8, World Trade Organization and EU meetings in recent years. Police are afraid of the small but violent anarchist groups in Greece and have been warned by foreign intelligence services that similar groups from other European countries are heading for Thessaloniki. Security will be tight, with 12,000 police officers and another 7,000 security force members on duty in Thessaloniki and Halkidiki to provide a cordon on land, sea and air. Shopkeepers, apart from sticking the optimistic message «Thessaloniki – City of Dialogue» on their stores, are also boarding up their shop fronts. The city’s Aristotle University has stripped equipment, including computers, from parts of the campus easily accessible to demonstrators, to avoid looting. Some parking garages have said they will not be open on the days of the summit and many drivers are expected to find places far from the center to park their vehicles. Weddings and baptisms have been postponed. The main protest in Thessaloniki on Saturday is expected to march past the US Consulate on Tsimiski Street, which will be closed on Thursday and Friday. Demonstrators plan to march at 5 p.m. from the port, along Nikis Avenue on the waterfront, to the White Tower, before marching back along Tsimiski Street. Tension is likely on Friday, when demonstrators will be bussed to Neos Marmaras at 2 p.m., where they will face the police cordon around Porto Carras, where EU leaders are meeting. The US State Department issued a public warning yesterday that said: «American citizens traveling in Greece should avoid demonstrations, since, in the past, similar demonstrations have sometimes turned violent.» The Communist Party says it will be hosting representatives of 70 communist parties and labor organizations at the «anti-summit.»

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