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15/02/2005 22:25 Local Time 
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Protests groups limber up for Thessaloniki 'Counter Summit'

With the EU summit in Halkidiki just hours away, protestors representing dozens of groups and organisations around the world began gathering in the nearby port city of Thessaloniki on Thursday to participate in the series of street demonstrations and events dubbed the 'Counter Summit'.

This will kick off on Thursday afternoon with the first demonstration organised by the Greek Communist Party-affiliated trade union faction PAME at 16:30, followed by a rally against racism organised by the Greek Social Forum and other movements at the ancient agora at 19:00.

The events are mainly organised by the organisations 'Action: Thessaloniki 2003', the Greek Social Forum, 'Resistance: Thessaloniki 2003' and 'Anti-authoritarian Movement - Salonika 2003'.

Hundreds of trade unionists, activists and members of political parties and movements from all corners of the globe were pouring into the city, with more expected later in the day.

About 500 protestors representing anti-capitalist, social and trade union organisations are staying at the camping site in Epanomi to take part in events organised by 'Resistance-Thessaloniki 2003'.

The city's traffic police are taking special measures, such as diversions and closing roads from 17:00 on Thursday until the EU summit ends on Saturday and have asked to the public to avoid using these roads or parking there.

Meanwhile, Macedonia Thrace Minister George Paschalides appealed to protestors to show a responsible attitude and respect the city, noting that the Macedonia-Thrace ministry had supported the demonstrations and 'Counter Summit' events through a programme called 'Hospitality and Respect'.

''I believe Thessaloniki and Halkidiki have an important opportunity to become linked with both important decisions that concern European issues - especially the new Constitution - but also with the conclusions of a polymorphic dialogue, the summit of citizens, which I believe could reveal new elements in how we can organise a world that is fairer, more human and peaceful,'' he said.

Paschalidis was speaking during a visit to the Press Centre set up at pavilion 13 in the Thessaloniki International Fair facilities specifically for coverage of the summit in Porto Carras, Halkidiki and events in Thessaloniki. 

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