During the last week the organised greek labour  movement, the “enraged” movement and the government have been preparing for the opening of the Thessaloniki International Fair.This is an important annual political event and everyone wanted to put his point forward as massively as possible.

The General Confederation of Greek workers and the Unions of the public sector hired a train to carry protesters to Thessaloniki. The “enraged” exchanged mails and sms organising their meeting points. Even football clubs which have been demoted called their supporters to protest. On the other hand, the government mobilised more than 6.500 policemen and special forces to “keep the peace” fuelling the rumors that there would be a real war in Thessaloniki.

The result was that the locals fled from their city (the heat wave helped to that) leaving  protesters and policemen  to fight it out on their own.  The Mayor stated that he was disappointed with this development and did not like to see his city taken over by police forces. According to a report on Antenna TV  (eight o’clock news) there was a point when “there were more policemen than demonstrators”.

The protesters were more than 20.000 according to various estimations. Students and workers, taxi drivers and communist party unionists, football fans and “enraged” congregated at various points in the perimeter of the city and started marching towards the south entrance of the Fair. The arrival of the guests who would attend the Prime Minister’s speech  was heralded with egg and water bottles by the crowd.

The clashes that did take place were mainly between the football fans, the anti-establishment block and the taxi drivers on the one hand and the special forces on the other. The peaceful march of the unions and students never reached the speech venue due to extensive use of tear gas and chemicals.

There were 9 arrests for disturbance of the peace and one person was charged with carrying weapons.