148407 4/3/2008 13:15 08THESSALONIKI29 Consulate Thessaloniki UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY VZCZCXRO2226 PP RUEHBW RUEHIK DE RUEHIK #0029 0941315 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 031315Z APR 08 FM AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0330 INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS PRIORITY 0235 RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY 0009 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST PRIORITY 0009 RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB PRIORITY 0005 RUEHIK/AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI 0364 UNCLAS THESSALONIKI 000029
DEPT FOR EUR/SE
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, ASEC, GR SUBJECT: THESSALONIKI TO BUCHAREST: "COMMUNIST YOUTH OF GREECE" PROTESTING NATO INTERVENTIONS IN THE BALKANS
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Between 70 and 100 members of the Communist Youth of Greece protested against NATO outside the American Consulate General in Thessaloniki on April 2. The event followed a similar protest in the same spot on March 24, which was organized by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and attracted around 200 people. On both occasions, protesters shouted slogans but no trouble ensued. The Communist Youth announced that protesters would leave Thessaloniki on April 3 and travel through Belgrade and Zagreb, finally reaching the site of the NATO summit in Bucharest on April 6. The low attendance reflects the relatively low level of public pre-occupation with Kosovo and the intense focus on other issues like Macedonia and pension reform.
2. (U) On April 2, 70-100 members of the Communist Youth of Greece (youth branch of the Communist Party of Greece,) demonstrated in front of the American Consulate General in Thessaloniki. The group also included a few foreign nationals who are members of affiliated organizations. The group protested peacefully against NATO interventions in the region, shouting slogans such as "Peaceful Balkans are only those without NATO, [U.S.] bases and imperialism." The group also announced that it will leave Thessaloniki on April 3 and will travel through Belgrade and Zagreb, finally reaching the site of the April 2-4 NATO summit in Bucharest on April 6.
3. (U) On March 24, a similar event was organized outside the American Consulate by the Communist Party of Greece. It was meant to mark the ninth anniversary of NATO bombings in the former Yugoslavia and included a photo exhibition on the issue, distribution of flyers asking for the withdrawal of "occupation armies" from the region and a speech by a Communist Party MP. It attracted around 200 people who shouted anti-American slogans and was concluded with no reported incidents.
4. (SBU) COMMENT: Even though the majority of northern Greeks still harbor bitter feelings towards NATO and the U.S. for the 1999 NATO air campaign and for supporting Kosovo's independence, the communist-led rallies failed to attract large crowds. The public is concerned about possible regional repercussions of Kosovo developments, but much more pre-occupied with the ongoing Macedonia name issue and pension system reform.