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24 August, 2000
The United States will take centre stage in Thessaloniki early next month as the "honoured nation" at Greece's largest trade exhibition, a move many hope will help smooth over some of the resentment felt in the region for last year's NATO air offensive against Yugoslavia.
The ambitious American presence at the 65th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) is highlighted by, among others, an Andy Warhol retrospective, a baseball pavilion, jazz music performances and an unprecedented 15-film tribute to America's incomparable 20th century cinema.
The People's Republic of China was the first country chosen as the "honoured nation" at last year's TIF, annually held in the first half of September in Greece's second-largest city, with America now in the limelight at the HELEXPO-sponsored exhibition.
"Our selection was guided by the trade fair itself -- art and commerce as interchangeable components, something for which the United States is a pre-eminent example. We also wanted to show the playful side of US culture and specific US art forms," Arlene Jacquette, the US embassy's public affairs counselor said on Wednesday in presenting all 11 events comprising the American participation.
Officials also emphasised the support given by the American-Hellenic Chamber and the US consulate in Thessaloniki towards organising the US-related series of events.
Jacquette credited US ambassador Nicholas Burns with "seizing the opportunity" to showcase US culture and lifestyle at the almost two-week-long fair, hosted in a port city that first received the bulk of NATO forces headed for deployment in the strife-torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
Burns is also expected to be present during both weekends that TIF runs for, US officials added.
During an Athens briefing on the TIF participation, US embassy officials expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation they had with both TIF executives and officials from the state-run exhibition organisation Helexpo, as well as over security precautions at the events.
"We're satisfied with the level of security, something that's of great interest to us..." Jacquette said, adding that US embassy security officials have participated in discussions with organisers and the management of various venues "from the beginning."
Source: Athens News Agency