Thessaloniki: Massive protest outside Greek EU summit

Around 100,000 people demonstrated in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Saturday 21 June to show their opposition to the EU summit.

The march was delayed after fierce battles broke out between several hundred anarchists and riot police. Of course, news coverage was then able to concentrate on pictures of wrecked shops and police making arrests instead of showing tens of thousands of organised workers and youth on the march.

The demo itself went ahead peacefully with only the occasional gust of tear-gas carried on the breeze to trouble the marchers.

One of the liveliest and youngest contingents was from Xekinima, the Greek section of the CWI. A constant stream of different chants, songs, drums and whistles kept everyone entertained before we set off and continued all the way to the end of the march. Xekinima stewards were organised to march on all sides of the contingent to guard against any possible police provocation.

The Xekinima contingent swelled from around 200 to well over 500 by the end. Other marchers were attracted to join us by the noise, the red CWI flags and the excellent banners – including one showing Donald Duck and ’South Park’ waging war on capitalism!

The Xekinima intervention had been even more impressive on the anti-racist demo which began the protests on Thursday. Around 700, including a large group of Black and Asian immigrants organised by Xekinima, marched with the CWI.

Xekinima members also attended the demonstration on Friday which marched towards the actual summit venue in a tourist resort outside the city. The Greek government had decided to move it there a few months ago to hide the EU leaders away from demonstrators. In fact, future summits will now all be held in Brussels to try and prevent the mass protests that have accompanied all their recent meetings. However, Friday’s demo only ended with rather fruitless skirmishes with the police who had sealed off the venue with barriers, ditches and barbed wire.

CWI members from Britain and Belgium travelled to support our Greek comrades as well as Joe Higgins, the Socialist Party TD (MP) in the Irish Parliament. Joe was a platform speaker at one of the main debates organised by the Greek Social Forum, one of the organisations hosting the summit protests.

Joe spoke on behalf of the SP in Ireland and the CWI. To applause, he said that when he speaks in the Dail to the establishment Irish politicians, they are meant to be speaking the same language. However, he added, his condemnations of war and poverty might as well be in Greek to them , so little do they care or understand about the real problems facing working people !

Joe’s speech shone a light of clarity through the fog of confused ideas from most of the other anti-globalisation speakers. His words could be summed up by one of the main chants of the Xekinima contingent: "Enas allos kosmos einai eftikos, pios? – ososialistikos ! Yes, another world is possible [as the Social Forum’s banners proclaimed] but what kind of world must the anti-globalisation movement fight for? – it has to fight for socialism !"

Pictures at Linkse Socialistische Partij

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June 2003