View Full Version : Tear Gas Used Against Protesters In Athens Greece During Condi Rice Visit

04-25-2006, 11:56 AM
Clashes in Athens as Rice visits



Athens police have fired teargas during a clash with anti-war demonstrators protesting against a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Some protesters hurled petrol bombs, sticks and stones in return.

Ms Rice is meeting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as part of a five-day trip to Europe that also includes Turkey and Bulgaria.

Thousands of protesters are said to have gathered in Athens. Some 5,000 riot police have been deployed.

Television pictures showed protesters throwing petrol bombs and using sticks as riot police advanced, the air thick with tear gas.

The protesters were trying to reach the buildings where Condoleezza Rice is meeting Mr Karamanlis and her Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, but many retreated under the police pressure, reports said.

Self-styled anarchists trailing the demonstrators continued fighting police, burning cars and smashing shop fronts, Reuters news agency reported, but there were no reports of injuries or arrests.

Police helicopters circled the city centre.

"We are not protesting just against Rice, but the imperialist, war-mongering US government," school teacher Panayiotis Hiundis told Reuters.

A senior figure from Greece's Communist Party accused Ms Rice of using the one-day visit to drum up support for an offensive against Iran, which the US accuses of trying to build a nuclear bomb.

At least six people were detained on Monday after they managed to unfurl a giant banner reading "Condoleezza Rice go home" on the Athens concert hall, adjacent to the US embassy, the AP news agency reported.

The US war in Iraq has triggered strong opposition in Greece. In addition, say commentators, many Greeks are still bitter at Washington for backing the right-wing military junta which ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974.

Ms Rice told reporters accompanying her to Europe that she would discuss Balkan peacekeeping, the future of the divided island of Cyprus, and the threat of terrorist attacks along the Turkey-Iraq border.

But in her first reported public statements from Athens, Ms Rice said Iran was isolating itself from the international community by threatening to suspend co-operation with the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, if sanctions are imposed.

She will leave for Ankara on Tuesday evening.

The date of Ms Rice's visit was changed to try to circumvent huge rallies against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which were planned to coincide with it.

Noisy anti-war protests marked a visit by Ms Rice to the north-west of the UK at the beginning of April.

04-25-2006, 04:52 PM
Rice fails to win Greek support on Iran


Tuesday 25 April 2006, 19:12 Makka Time, 16:12 GMT

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, has won no public pledge of support from Greece for punitive sanctions against Tehran, as thousands protested on the streets of Athens against her visit.

Rice met Costas Karamanlis, the Greek prime minister, and Dora Bakoyanni, her Greek counterpart, on Tuesday as part of a five-day trip to Europe that includes Turkey and Bulgaria.

Bakoyanni was noncommittal on Greece's stance, as a non-voting Security Council member, in a possible vote on sanctions against Iran.

"We believe there must be coordination within the European Union, and decisions will be taken within the framework of the Security Council," Bakoyanni said.

"We are in the middle of a diplomatic effort, which still has tools at its disposal that allow it to be effective."

As anti-American riots raged near her ministry, Bakoyannis said Iran had to provide "sufficient assurances" that it would not pursue a military nuclear programme.

Riot squads fired tear gas at masked youths hurling gasoline bombs and rocks after they tried to break through a police cordon to reach the building where Rice was meeting with Bakoyannis.

The youths set fire to a delivery van and smashed store fronts in one of Athens' premier shopping areas as they were chased by police away from central Syntagma Square.

The violence and more than a dozen tear gas canisters fired by police led to the breakup of a demonstration by about 4,000 people who had gathered in two rallies.

One had been organised by the Communist Party and another by anti-globalisation activists.

"This is an anti-war rally," said protester Panayiotis Hiundis, 26, a schoolteacher.

"We are not protesting just against Rice, but the imperialist, war-mongering US government."

Diplomatic agenda
Bakoyannis and Rice also on Tuesday denied they had discussed the possible use by the United States of a large military base on the Greek island of Crete.

"The United States president doesn't take any options off the table, but we are on a diplomatic agenda here"

"The agenda is to reinforce our diplomatic efforts," Rice said.

"I most certainly did not raise facilities for anything, because that is not on the agenda."

Asked about any possibility of US military action to deter Iran, Rice repeated the standard White House reply.

"The United States president doesn't take any options off the table, but we are on a diplomatic agenda here," she said.

The United States and European allies are expected to press for binding measures when the UN Security Council begins the next round of its review of the Iranian case as soon as next week.

Although Rice has recently raised the likelihood of pressing for sanctions, she did not go that far on Tuesday when taking questions following her meeting with Bakoyannis.

Rice and Bakoyannis discussed the future of the war-divided island of Cyprus, but there were no indications that the United States would try to broker a deal.

A United Nations-backed proposal to unify the island fell apart after Greek Cypriots rejected a referendum two years ago.

Rice said Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, and others want to be sure any new deal has support before moving ahead.

Rice briefly met with Costas Caramanlis, the Greek prime minister, before she left for Turkey.

Rice said the next step in the international effort to counter Iranian nuclear ambitions is not certain.