How convenient don’t you think, my dears? Tomorrow the International Fair , the city’s most important annual event, kicks off in Thessaloniki and no one has spent a single paragraph to tell the world what is about to take place.
No, the foreign press has decided to snub the whole affair, because to them, the Greeks are just lazy, complaining spoilt brats who have no idea what’s going on in their lives. Well, let me tell you what’s going on because after so many months of standing on the sidelines, I’ve made up my mind to change sides and fight for the rights of the common layman.
From its outset 79 years ago, Thessaloniki’s International Fair has always been the most prestigious event to take place in the country’s north, in the country’s second most important city, the «co-capital» as it’s known in Greek. People would come from nearby cities, not only to see the exhibits but also let their children enjoy themselves on carousels and other rides the fairground took pride in.
But over the years, as with most declining empires, the north lost its sparkle. Ministries, government offices and major businesses, closed shop and shipped off to Athens. Thessaloniki was only remembered before elections as well as once a year when Greece’s Prime Minister would come to give his grand speech before the city’s distinguished entrepreneurs and report on the country’s economy.
Tomorrow Mr Papandreou is set to give this annual speech, but a question mark remains as to whether he’ll show up. The city has been under siege for several days now, with police storming the streets to instill fear in the populace so that demonstrations won’t take place. Eyewitnesses state they’ve seen police officers stop old men on their mopeds and talk down to them, intimidating them for no reason.
This entire week press releases on Greece’s biased newspapers, TV channels and blogs (small note here: all newspapers and TV channels produce biased, government-fed reports. People have woken up to the reality of propaganda mongers who shamelessly call themselves objective reporters) speak of thousands of police officers, riot police vans and even secret police units whose numbers jump daily from 4500 to 6000 and yesterday even to 11000. The aim is clear. The government doesn’t want to grant Greeks their democratic right to demonstrate. The PM knows he’s not wanted, knows he’s tricked the nation and let the foreign Trojan horse in and now no one will forgive him this treason, because treason is what Greeks call it. Thus the overinflated uniformed police numbers.
The other thing the press hasn’t said is that tomorrow the whole city will be shaken by demonstrations from a variety of associations, unions, organizations that will close in on the International Fair’s facilities a stone’s throw away from the city’s symbol of freedom, the White Tower, once a Turkish prison. Greece’s Indignants will close in from the south and southeast; Indignant motorists, the worker’s unions and leftist anti-authoritarians from the west; enraged taxi drivers from the north along with disgusted supporters of Thessaloniki’s historic football team Iraklis who have seen the justice system thrown to the dogs for the past three and a half months (with strong suspicions that UEFA is also in on the corruption the Hellenic Football Federation has so blatantly embraced).
(red stars denote the various outset points for demonstrations. The large central yellow ΔΕΘ box stands for the Fair’s grounds, where the PM will be)
Tomorrow Greek officials, be they left-wing or right, will hear the voice of the common man and that voice will not whisper, falter or be checked by decorum. Once again, the fight will be fierce and riot police will use all the force they can illegally muster to disperse the crowds that will gather around the conference hall where Papandreou will give his stilted speech. Though they know what awaits them, they are nonetheless determined to exercise their right to take the streets and be heard.