Police in Athens plan large-scale operation for Sunday’s ‘Macedonia’ rally

Police in Athens plan large-scale operation for Sunday’s ‘Macedonia’ rally

The Greek Police are planning a large-scale operation for Sunday when a rally protesting the use of the term Macedonia in a solution to a longstanding dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the latter's name is expected to draw a large crowd with a counter-rally by anarchists expected to provoke some unrest. 

A key point of concern to police is the potential for clashes between members of far-right groups who might attend the main rally and participants in the anarchists' demonstration. 

The main rally is to begin at 2 p.m. at central Syntagma Square while the anarchists are set to gather at noon a few blocks away at the entrance to Athens University.

Police will do their best to keep the two rallies apart. There will be officers deployed close to several squats in central Athens in a bid to avert a similar incident to that in Thessaloniki last month when anarchists torched a former squat there.

Officers will also be tasked with escorting dozens of buses bringing in protesters from other parts of the country for the main rally which is backed by the Church of Greece and, organizers say, could attract around 1 million people. 

An additional headache for law enforcers is that Athens soccer clubs Olympiakos and AEK will be playing in the afternoon in Neo Faliro and will also require policing. 

There will also be a heightened police presence in Athens on Saturday afternoon as two rallies have been planned for the anniversary of the Imia crisis which brought Greece and Turkey close to war in 1996 and cost three Hellenic Navy servicemen their lives.

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