It has been quite a peculiar weekend for Greece, especially for the country’s second-largest city – Thessaloniki – “the capital of Northern Greece”. Just as the city was hosting the Thessaloniki International Fair/TIF, with the USA as “honored country”, with US Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross joining in as special guest/envoy of President Trump, the streets were seething in anger and protest.
Thessaloniki is traditionally the venue for Greece’s political class – both Government and Opposition – to start the political season by stating their contrasting views over economic policy and all related options. Greece being Greece and tempers getting easily aflame, TIF gives traditionally the opportunity to all and sundry for protest – mainly over the economy/economic policy. Still, this time around, simmering discontent over the infamous “name issue” and the Prespes Treaty that is expected/hoped to end the decades-long dispute between Greece and FYRoM has brought to the surface nastier (and more dangerous) forms of discontent.
So, while Chancellor Merkel or NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg were weighing in for the Prespes Treaty to be approved in the oncoming FYRoM referendum (not to mention encouraging noises by President Trump…) streets at Thessaloniki were boiling over in opposition to any agreement with FYRoM. The fact that Greek police were joined in their efforts to keep some sort of calm (or even control) over the city by FBI, CIA and related agencies has added a difficult-to-digest touch.
With all passion spent in the streets, with the economic-policy intentions of the Government set out in rather moderate terms and with P.M. Tsipras having tried to explain to a hesitant audience the economic promise arising for Northern Greece out of the normalization of relations with FYRoM through the Prespes Treaty, it has been a peculiarly tame and uneventful weekend in Thessaloniki.