The Greeks, Kosovo, and the U.S.
Following the Chomskyan distinction, in the present text the word Greeks refers to the inhabitants of the geographic region of Greece as distinct from the political and economic elits that "govern" the country. (The use of the quotation marks is explained later on.)
But, first, a report on the main events in Greece for the last 20 hours. (This is being written at Halandri, a suburb of Athens, on April 28, 1999 at 7 pm, Athens time.)
- Yesterday, around midnight, a group of Greek citizens demonstrated against the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia at the gate of the fenced area of the railroad terminus of the port of Salonica. The aim of the demonstrators was to block the departure of a train that was about to move British troops and tanks (on flatcars) from Salonica to Macedonia. The demonstrators blocked the train as it moved out of the terminus, painted the swastika on the sides of all the tanks on the flatcars, wrote (in English) the slogan "Killers go home" and started shouting against the British soldiers that were in the train cars. Then, they started throwing stones thus breaking the glass windows of the cars and forcing the rather surprised British soldiers to put on their helmets. Finally, with the help of the railroad employees, who joined them, the demonstrators succeeded to force the train to move back into the terminus. (Source: Reported as seen by me on the news of the Greek TV stations.)
Note: On April 1 similar scenes to the above took place again in the port of Salonica.
Also, a couple of weeks ago a big group of demonstrators at the Greek-Macedonian border
stopped a big convoy of trucks that were moving French troops from the port of Salonica to
Macedonia. Finally, after many hours of negotiating with the police, the demonstrators
forced the convoy to return to the port of Salonica!
(Source; The same as above.)
- Yesterday on the island of Corfu, at 10 pm (Athens time) there was a concert -
demonstration against the NATO bombings attended by about 10,000 people. After the concert
was over, around 12 midnight, the crowd walked to the airport of the island, overcame the
police force that was guarding the airport and stormed into the buildings. Then they moved
out towards the runway and there ensued clashes with the police that lasted up to 3
o'clock in the morning. Result: 6 or 8 policemen injured, one of them in serious
condition, 8 civilians arrested.
(Source: The same as above.)
- Today, in the Greek papers there is a report that the day before yesterday in an an
evening TV show George Katsanevakis, the prefect of the prefecture of Chania on the island
of Crete, declared that Nicholas Burns, the US Ambassador in Greece, is "persona non
grata" in Chania. Because, Burns protested to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs
about a resolution made public by the General Assembly of the Local Governments of the
Chania prefecture. The resolution: "We, the members of the Local Governments, being
aware of the indignation felt by our fellow-countrymen, inform our government... that the
American soldiers are undesirable in our country and we cannot guarantee for their
physical safety or for anything else that might happen to them. We call the citizens to
boycott the American multinational companies and not to deal with them."
(Source: ELEFTHEROTYPIA, Apr. 28, '99, p.7)
Notes: 1. Most Cretans, by tradition, own guns. Ownership of guns is illigal in Greece. Cretans fire their guns mostly to celebrate a marrige,or on other festive occasions, sometimes in the presence of governmant officials. Also, they fire their guns to kill one another in decades long vendettas. 2. The US military base at Souda Bay in Crete seems to be one of the most important (if not the most important) US bases in the world.
- Yesterday at 11:36 pm, a time bomb had exploded in front of the Athens Intercontinental Hotel. There was a 39 years old woman dead and a man lightly wounded. The organization that put the bomb, the "Revolutionary Cells", had warned about the bomb 30 minutes before the explosion. The occasion for placing the bomb, as explained by the organization itsef with a letter to an Athens paper, was to protest for a conferene organized by the London "Economist" in the hotel. The general consensus of the Greek press is that this is a provocation by western secret services.
Now to the main theme of this commentary: Why are only the Greeks, among all the European peoples opposing the NATO (that is US) bombing against Yugoslavia? The polls show that 98%(!) of the Greeks are against the bombing. They express their opposition with massive demonstrations, almost every other day all over the country. In Athens the demonstrations end up infront of the U.S. Embassy. This seems to not only annoy Mr. Burns, the U.S. Ambassador, but according to the Greek press to also make him jittery, as indicated by his frequent visits to the Ministry of Public Order, a natural reaction when one observes a mass of humanity as far as the eye can see (to the tune of tens of thousands) and has protection of only a few hundred policemen. The Greeks are ANGRY against the U.S. They think that the war is morally wrong. They can see through the hypocrisy of Clinton and his puppets. They know who Milsevic is. They are not for Milosevic. They know the suffering of the refugees and the role of the bombing in this. Also, they know what is happening in Yugoslavia. There are dozens of Greek reporters in Yugoslavia and in Kosovo, who report honestly what is happening there, as much as is possible to do, They know that Greece has been under virtual U.S. occupation since 1947. They know that any Greek government "governs" as a proxy of the U.S. elites. They know that when Demirel of Turkey threatens Greece with war, in case Greece does not do the bidding of the U.S. in Kosovo, as Demirel did threaten Greece immediately after the bombing started, he (Demirel) is doing the threatening as a proxy of the U.S.
However, the main reason that the Greeks see through the lies that other peoples swallow is their history of the Resistance against the Nazis and the history of the Greek left, especially the Greek Communist Party. It is quite interesting to see today coservative Greeks agree with the positions that the left had been holding, about the U.S., for almost half a century, namely that the "Americans are murderers of peoples!", which by the way is the slogan heard from one to the other end of the country. (Of course, the Greeks make the necessary Chomskyan distinction and by "Americans" they mean the Trumans, the Clintons, et al.).
Two days ago, in Syntagma Square, the historic square of Athens, there was a concert--demonstration with Mikis Theodorakis, the composer, as the central figure of the event. There were more than one hundred thousand people, of all ages, present at the event. The Greeks were proud and moved to tears about the maturity, the seriousness and the MORALITY of those present, especially the young people. This, I think, was a real life test of the truth of the claims made about the Greeks in the preceding paragraph. The main slogan, repeated continuously, was: "Americans murderers of peoples!"
At this point a short parenthesis for those that do not know who Mikis Theodorakis is. Mikis was borne in 1936. At the age of 14 he joined the anti-Nazi resistance. He was arrested and tortured. He joined the Greek left and spent years and years in prisons and concentration camps. Since the age of ten he had been composing. Now he is considred, worldwide, as a composer who belongs in the company of the best composers of the world. He still belongs to the left.
Three days from now, on Saturday the First of May, the Greek workers for the first time in the history of the Greek labor movement will celebrate the sacrifice of the heroes of Haymarket of Chicago in front of the U.S. Embassy in Athens, protesting the bombing. They will be joined by another mass of Greeks who would start their First of May celebration in Syntagma Square, and who are the "descendents" of the Greeks that were killed in that very square in December 1944, essentially by British troops, a few weeks after the Nazis left Greece, as they (the Greeks) demonstrated for freedom and social justice.