VICTORY- Powell Cancels Athens Visit Amid Protests!
- 1) Powell Visit Sparks Athens Protest
2) Powell Cancels Athens Visit Amid Protests
August 27, 2004
Powell Visit Sparks Violent Athens Protest
ATHENS - Police used tear gas Friday night to disperse
more than 2,000 demonstrators [according to other
sources it was "more than 2000" - something like 10
times more! - FF ] who lit fires, smashed
windows and beat up journalists while marching through
downtown Athens to protest the weekend visit of
Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The demonstrators, who scuffled with police in front
of the Parliament, fought running battles with riot
squads trying to prevent them from reaching the U.S.
Embassy. The embassy is not near any Olympic venues,
but it is near the hotel being used by the
International Olympic Committee and located on a major
Olympic traffic lane.
The protesters shouted slogans against the U.S.-led
occupation of Iraq.
Powell was expected to arrive Saturday to meet Premier
Costas Caramanlis and attend the closing ceremony of
the Athens Olympics on Sunday night.
Earlier, hundreds of riot police with shields
prevented the protesters from heading toward the
embassy, and the two sides faced off in front of the
Greek Parliament building.
The protesters marched in front of Athens University,
beating drums, spraying graffiti on the walls and
unfurling banners criticizing President Bush.
"Powell is the man who peddled Bush's lies on Iraq,"
said protest organizer, Yiannis Sifahakis. "He is a
murderer and we don't want him here."
Some of the demonstrators shouted slogans in English,
taking advantage of the international TV crews
covering the event. They called on passers-by to join
them on a march to the U.S. Embassy.
Among those who joined in before the violence broke
out was Andrea Murray, 22, who graduated from Duke
University in North Carolina. She said she was looking
for Athens' National Museum and instead found the
"I found this and I thought, like wow! I am
participating because I am American and I want Greeks
to know that not all Americans are drones or idiots,"
A spectacular, moonlit Acropolis served as a backdrop
to more than 500 riot police who were positioned in
the central Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament
building and elsewhere in central Athens.
One Olympics volunteer in the trademark Athens 2004
polo shirt and shorts held up a sign that read: "Any
volunteers against U.S. policy?"
Another demonstration by 200 people in Thessaloniki, a
northern port and Greece's second-largest city,
dispersed peacefully after protesters marched by the
U.S. consulate to complain about Powell's visit.
Greece's top law enforcement official said the
demonstrators had a right to protest but asked them
not to cause any trouble.
"We organized games in an environment of security and
discretion. Everyone recognizes this," Public Order
Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said. "I want to believe
that the events that have been planned will respect
what with great effort all Greeks have accomplished."
Some Greeks worried that Powell's visit could destroy
the festive atmosphere that has been present in
Syntagma Square and the rest of the capital in recent
"I hope it won't spoil the party because the city is
buzzing and everyone's pro-Olympics," said Marissa
Daras, 26, a human resources specialist, as she walked
through the square.
The right to demonstrate is cherished by Greeks,
following harsh restrictions imposed during a 1967-74
military dictatorship. Protest groups have said they
would oppose any police attempt to prevent them from
marching on the U.S. Embassy.
Greece's small but influential Communist Party also
said it was organizing a protest march on Saturday
from central Athens to the embassy.
August 28, 2004
Powell Cancels Athens Visit Amid Protests
ATHENS - Secretary of State Colin Powell on Saturday
canceled a weekend visit to attend the closing
ceremony of the Olympics, just hours after
demonstrators marched through central Athens.
Powell couldn't attend because of "urgent
responsibilities," the foreign ministry said.
In a letter, Powell thanked Foreign Minister Petros
Moliviatis "for the especially successful and secure
organization of the games."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Kurtis
Cooper said the anti-American protests in Athens
played no role in Powell's decision.
"The secretary considered a number of factors. The
press of business in Washington made him decide he
could not visit at this time," Cooper said.
"What's going on in Iraq and Sudan require the
secretary's close attention," he said.
The Greek foreign ministry said Powell would visit
Athens in October.
Many Greeks had wondered why Powell planned to visit
this weekend, knowing his presence would likely
provoke protests. Until Powell announced his visit,
there had been none of the anti-American
demonstrations that were feared in the run-up to the
On Friday, riot police used tear gas to disperse
hundreds of demonstrators who took part in a protest
against the Powell visit. About 1,500 people who took
part in the march were prevented from reaching the
U.S. Embassy to protest Powell's trip.
"It is an enormous victory of the anti-war movement
that managed to cancel the visit of the arch-killer
Powell," protest organizer Yiannis Sifahakis told The
Just hours before Powell was to arrive, Greece's
Communist Party displayed a large banner at the site
of the ancient Acropolis to protest his trip.
"Powell killer go home. Don't forget that civilians
are being slaughtered in Najaf and a wall is being
built in Palestine," read the banner, which was raised
on one of the sides of the Acropolis Hill.
It was removed after Powell's visit was canceled.
Communist Party member Aristotelis Gontikas said
Powell's cancelation was a victory for those opposed
to American policies and was not targeted at
"I believe that the reaction of the Greek people still
counts. It is not by chance that Greeks measure in
polls as the most anti-American," Gontikas told the AP
at the Acropolis.
The party said a protest rally that was to begin in
front of the old campus of Athens University and end
at the U.S. Embassy would still be held.
"The protest will now be transformed into a festival,"
Greeks harbor anti-American feelings primarily over
U.S. support of the 1967-74 military junta, which
persecuted its leftist opponents. Many Greeks also
believe Washington ignores the concerns of smaller and
In 1999, during a visit by then-President Clinton,
battles between protesters and police turned downtown
Athens into a riot zone.