Thessaloniki gears up for annual international trade fair

The northern port city of Thessaloniki began gearing up for the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Tuesday, where Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the event’s opening on Saturday.

Police on Tuesday began drawing up emergency security measures for the area around the Thessaloniki Convention Center, where the event will be hosted from September 7-15, as there is expected to be a strong turnout by unions protesting the government’s plans to streamline the civil service and other austerity measures.

Security plans are expected to be finalized later this week during a meeting at Thessaloniki’s police headquarters that will be attended by the chief of the Greek Police.

Some 3,500 to 4,000 police officers will be dispatched to guard the event, the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA) reported on Tuesday.

Another 140 traffic policemen will be sent in from other parts of the country to replace municipal police officers in charge of monitoring traffic code violations after the disbandment of the force earlier in the summer.

All protest marches and rallies will be closely guarded by riot police with orders to quell any outbreaks of violence and they will also be observed by air.

Streets will also be closed around the convention center and for protest marches, AMNA said.

Samaras is due on Wednesday to meet with representatives of key businesses in northern Greece as well as with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou.

In Thessaloniki, the prime minister is expected to outline the government’s progress in meeting targets set by international lenders and its future plans regarding the crisis-hit economy, with a focus on investment opportunities in Greece and growth-boosting measures.

He is also expected to respond to calls from the opposition for snap polls.

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