Major operation under way to bolster Thessaloniki security ahead of TIF

Major operation under way to bolster Thessaloniki security ahead of TIF

Some 5,000 additional officers of the Greek Police (ELAS), helicopters and boats belonging to the coast guard, and agents from America's Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are forming the biggest ever security operation to protect the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), which opens at the northern port city on Saturday.

The beefed-up security in and around the fair's ground at the Helexpo exhibition center comes as the United States is the honored country at this year's installment of the annual event, which will be attended by US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and American Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also arrived at the city in a motorcade on Thursday night and will be giving a keynote policy speech on Saturday to inaugurate the TIF.

His appearance has prompted a series of protest rallies to be planned over the next few days, though the first disgruntled civil servants took to the streets on Friday.

Members of the POEDIN union of public hospital workers scuffled briefly with police when they tried to force their way into the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace to express their dismay with budget cuts and staff shortages.

Uniformed officers will be staging a rally at 6 p.m. on Friday, while several other unions will be turning out in force on Saturday to coincide with the prime minister's speech.

Apart from angry state workers and pensioners, however, the northern port city is also bracing for a rallies in protest at the name deal signed between the leftist-led government and Skopje in June.

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