Report on Salonica

The biannual European Union (EU) summit meeting, of June 20-21, took place in Salonica , as it was the turn of Greece to hold the presidency of the EU. Twenty-five heads of state (plus their retinues) attended. There was a simultaneous translation into 28 languages. ( Cannot figure out which the additional 3 languages were.) The meeting was held at the Porto Carras luxury hotel complex, some 93 miles southeast of Salonica on the Halkidiki peninsula (on the middle finger of the 3-fingered peninsula). The place was (supposedly) chosen for security reasons as it offers Alcatraz-type security advantages.

(Note: In the early 70s I found myself in the vicinity of Porto Carras, on engineering work. The site of the Carras complex was being prepared for the foundation and basement excavation. At the site I met a fellow-engineer (probably a Greek- born naturalized American) that was employed by an American company that did subcontractor work for Bechtel. My thoughts at the time: “What is this guy doing at Porto Carras, as his work at the time had to do with the design of the “(in)famous” Egnatia Road project by an American company.” Halfway on the side of an adjacent beautifully verdant hill there was a luxurious villa, the only structure in the area at the time, with a panoramic view of the Aegean Sea. I was told that it belonged to a (very rich) guy named Carras, who was the owner of the complex. That is how the area got its name.

After the complex was built it was “adopted” by Karamanlis, the “ethnarch” (leader of a nation or a people) and well-known Prime Minister, President of the Greek republic, etc., for his vacationing retreat. The same Karamanlis that pleaded with US General Norsted (formerly head of NATO) to intervene with the US elite so that he can have his own little dictatorship in Greece. He was denied the privilege. When Karamanlis left for that part of Heaven where the US proxies for American client countries go, he had already arranged to ignore a Greek law that prohibits burying a person in a private site. He is buried in the yard of a private institute bearing his name. A nephew of his, with the exact name, is going to be the new Prime Minister of Greece in a few months. (That is not exactly nepotism a more accurate description would be: tentative approval by the US Embassy for proxy service.

Of what I know the Carras complex the decades that followed the Karamanlis’ death did not make it as a business. Anyway, the present Greek government tried to resurrect the place for the EU summit. Up to a few hours before the European heads of state arrived workers were still painting the rooms the elite were going to sleep in. The problem of fresh-paint smell was solved by a generous use of space deodorants. So, finally the leaders of Europe had their safe accommodation. End of [a rather long, yet politically necessary] note.)

So, the EU leaders were ready to begin their back-breaking work. Of course, the most important part of their work apart from their discussion of how to best serve the will of the (transatlantic) Emperor and apart from the problem of the (traditional Christian) lack of enough fresh fish to feed the (elite) crowd, was the problem of security from the acts of the unwashed rabble. There is no doubt that the will of the Emperor was taken “seriously” into account. For the fish problem, there is a rumor that it was solved through the use of frozen substitutes. Yet, the real success of the Greek government, as periodic head of Europe, was in the field of security. The post-9/11 type of security.

On the Porto Carras site there were two Patriot anti-missile batteries, Stinger missiles, a very advanced radar system at the on site heliport, 7.5 miles long 10 feet high barbed -wire fence around the complex, around 4 miles of underwater steel mesh placed across the entrance of the bay, 6,000 policemen around the complex, etc,etc. All these for a 48-hour vacation for the EU elite. But all these were routine stuff. The real security triumph took place in the city of Salonica itself.

The security solution for the city was a two pronged one: First, “Salonica tries to win over protesters,”goes the title of a page-one report in the English language insert of “Kathimerini,” in the International Herald Tribune. (June 6). “The Ministry… has provided 300,000 euros [about US $ 300,000)] to cover infrastructure requirements (for chemical toilets, tents, cleaners, snacks, and refreshments.” (Ibid, June 10). Second, the Greek government tried to terrorize the people of Salonica. It succeeded.

For weeks before the EU summit the machinery of wholesale terrorism of the state (as compared to the petty retail terrorism of individual direct action) had been operating in full. Even weddings and baptisms had been postponed for the period of the summit. But the crown of the achievement of the Greek state was the cladding of downtown Salonica in galvanized sheet metal! The fronts of shops, building entrances, etc, were “boarded up” with galvanized sheet metal of about 1 millimeter (about 0.04 inches) thick. The sheet metal sheath had an elaborate door structure for the proprietor to get in and out of his shop.

The entire project was quite expensive. Other shop owners were more courageous (or more rational) and put signs on their glass windows proclaiming: “Salonica: City of Dialogue,” or stayed in their shops during the demonstrations. Also to “supervise” the sheet-metaled streets there were more than 10,000 policemen! For three days the people of Salonica were in their houses. The streets were empty of them. The only humans on the streets were the demonstrators and policemen (a.k.a. “pigs”).

Then the demonstrators arrived in Salonica. About 70,000, according to the demonstrators themselves. About 40,000 according to the police. Among them many people from all over the world. On Thursday, June 19, there was a big anti-racist demonstration, talks, panels of discussion, etc. All was quiet and dignified. Next day at noon, about 6,000 demonstrators boarded buses for the 93-mile drive to Porto Carras, where they demonstrated peacefully, outside the “red zone”, delineated by the fence, the police, etc. Then about 1,000 demonstrators tried to go over a little bridge that was the only free access point to the Porto Carras complex itself.

There were 6,000 police to prevent the 1,000 young demonstrators. All the police had to do is attack them with these ionized chemicals. The demonstrators started running in panic up the hills, where the brave police waited to ambush them and beat the hell out of them. Fortunately no injuries were reported, as the demonstrators obviously retreated.

Next day, Saturday, June 21, the main demonstration took place in Salonica. The tens of thousands of “regular” demonstrators demonstrated peacefully. About 2,000 anarchist demonstrated separate, but peacefully. About 500 of the “Black Block” started smashing shops, etc. Especially those that were clad in the galvanized sheet metal, as it was easy to pry open a place at the door joint and throw a “Molotov cocktail” in the shop. Because of the cladding it was not easy to spot the fire and the fire-fighting was harder than if there was no sheet metal. There were about 76 shops, etc. and 15 cars damaged. Arrested were 102 persons. All were released except 27 of them. Of the 27, seven (three Greeks, two Spaniards, a Briton, and a Syrian) were remanded in custody after criminal charges were pressed against them. The other 20 were released later after criminal charges were pressed against them.

Eyewitness reports:

- Some of the “persons that vandalized buildings” attacked the offices of the Greek Communist Party in Salonica with an axe.

- The group that were destroying, etc, “moved to side streets, threw away, masks, bags, etc, put on new blouses, given them by people waiting for them at the side streets.” Many people think they were policemen.

- The arrested Briton, Simon Chapman, is shown in state TV footage carrying a light blue backpack at the moment of his arrest. In the same footage policemen are shown picking a black backpack from the pavement putting a hammer in it and forcing it on Chapman.

- Again in TV footage, of a private channel this time, a man is shown entering a shop grabbing stuff and leaving, while a policeman is standing about five yards away very much uninterested. The really tragic thing is that the commentator of the private channel watches the same scene as the rest of the population of Greece and bypasses it without comment the same way the policeman did.

- From the arrested anarchists and released there is the following statement in the paper “Eleftherotypia” (June 27, p.7): “We have seen how the police was changing backpacks and forced their backpacks on the people arrested. We have undergone brutal beatings. We know that the jail area that we were taken to smelled of gasoline…”

Of the entire event the worst part was the TV coverage by the private channels. The effort to help the government in its attempt to terrorize the populace by concentrating on the few dozens of “unknown ” vandals while ignoring the tens of thousands of demonstrators is nauseating.

Yet there are really positive aspects of the event: Once more the elites sought an Alcatraz environment to avoid the “rabble”. Also, most important, the Emperor was forced to lower its star-spangled banner at the US Consulate in Salonica when the demonstrators started to move.

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