In the most violent protest since US President Clinton took office in 1993, Greeks gave Clinton the welcome he deserved.
15,000 demonstrators marched on the Polytechnic campus in Athens on Wednesday Nov.17. The demonstrators were outraged that Clinton dared step foot in the Balkans on the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising that was crushed by a US backed military junta, and so soon after the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia, a campaign that nearly every Greek opposed.
The President met with Greek officials on Saturday Nov.20 to discuss troubled relations in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. During his visit President Clinton stated "I'm sorry about it," when asked what he thought of the anti-American protests. Quite a mouthful of wisdom coming from a US President.
The demonstrators had at times, a very difficult attempt at showing Clinton their opposition personally as the Greek government banned protestors from entering certain areas of the city. The empty streets had been swept and cleared as Clinton toured the Athenian monuments with his daughter."In essence, they have imposed martial law on Athens. We will not accept this," said senior Communist official Stratis Korakas. (Agence France-Presse)
The Communist Party of Greece which organized most of the large demonstrations said that the government had done nothing to stop the anarchists, which were responsible for inciting the riots and responsible for burning 86 shops and 13 banks.
The protests were not confined to Athens. In the northern port city of Thessaloniki, which NATO used to supply troops to Kosovo, about 2,500 anti-Clinton demonstrators stormed the port.
The government claimed that the Communists had fanned the atmosphere of tension. However, the tension would be hard to miss even before the demonstrations were organized.
Under US President Harry S. Truman, the US intervened in Greece's 1944-48 civil war to help the fascists defeat the Communist-led leftist forces, alienating more than half of the Greek population.
In 1967, the US supported the rightist military regime that eventually took power of Greece and ruled until 1974. In 1973 students at the Polytechnic University in Athens rose up in opposition to this rightist government, the US & Greek military used tanks to crush the students and workers demonstrating at the University.
Home | Back to The Balkans