Date: Sun, 20 Apr 97 19:46:46 CDT
Hundreds in Greece Protest Intervention
By Georges Mehrabian, Militant, Vol.61 no.16, 21 April 1997
ATHENS, Greece - Over 800 people marched to the Greek parliament April 2 to protest the government's decision to dispatch troops to Albania. Once there, demonstrators delivered a petition with thousands of signatures against Greek participation in the UN-authorized force. Smaller protests were also held the same day in Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city, as well as Patras and Corinth.
Signs and banners at the Athens march, the largest action against intervention to date, read: "Not one soldier for intervention in Albania" and "Solidarity with the Albanian people."
These actions have been organized primarily by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its youth organization, KNE. A significant section of the Athens march consisted of young people. "I don't think we should go there," one young woman who asked that her name not be used said. "The uprising is just, I support the people there." A group of six Albanian immigrant workers were also there. "Berisha must go, the troops are going to help keep him in power," one of them, who also asked to remain anonymous, said. On April 8, a similar action of 200 people took place in the port city of Piraeus. It was sponsored by the Pireaus Committee for Detente and Peace, and endorsed by city branches of the Construction Workers Union, Garment and Leather Union, and Retirees of IKA [the state social security agency].
Several public speak-outs have already been held by various political forces on university campuses in Athens. The walls of these schools are plastered with posters opposing intervention and solidarizing with the uprising of the Albanian toilers.
According to Greek defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a dispute between Rome, which has the command of the multi- national force, and Athens has been settled. Rome wanted to dispatch the Greek battalion north of Tirana, a stronghold of Berisha. The dispute threatened to scuttle the whole mission. "We agreed on the following deployment: The main [Greek] battalion will be based in Tirana and a company of the force we'll send will be based in Vlore," stated Tsochatzopoulos. "Our aim is to start the process that will lead to elections in June or July. This means disarming the citizens and distribution of humanitarian aid at all levels." Meanwhile, according to Athens News, "over 100 Greek entrepreneurs" have formed the Coordinating Committee of Greek Investors in Albania to protect their interests there.
Plans are under way by an ad-hoc coalition of anti-war and political groups here to launch a number of anti- intervention actions the week of the troops' deployment. The events include a speak-out at the Polytechnic University April 16, a march to the Greek Pentagon April 18, and mass leafleting of the army base of Haidari, near Athens.
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