Security tightens in Thessaloniki ahead of international fair


Police has bolstered security in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, as the finishing touches are put on the annual international fair that will be launched on Saturday by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with a keynote policy speech.

Security is particularly tight on Friday for Tsipras's arrival in the city, but also for the arrival of US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and American Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt, who are attending the event where the United States is the country of honor this year.

Dozens of unions, meanwhile, have been gathering since early on Friday to attend a series of rallies planned over the next few days to protest austerity and government commitments for more measures.

Already on Friday, much of the downtown area was closed by a march of health workers protesting spending cuts and staff shortages at public hospitals. They will be followed at 6 p.m. by uniformed officers, while the civil servants' union will be staging a big rally on Saturday to coincide with the prime minister's speech.

In a related development, meanwhile, police on Thursday intercepted a car on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway in which four suspected anarchists believed to be headed to the northern port were carrying sledge-hammers and gas masks. The incident is seen as confirming police concerns of violence.