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31 October, 1997
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas last night strongly condemned the serious incidents outside the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday, where a symposium of Greek and Turkish business people was scheduled to take place earlier in the afternoon.
"We condemn the irresponsible mobilization of a small group of bigoted individuals of suspect intentions, which far from promoting what they claim, damages the interests of the country," he said.
Mr. Reppas stressed that the government was not prepared to tolerate such behavior.
"Greece is a democratic and open society, where all views and legitimate activities are respected. The businessmen's' meeting enjoys the general acceptance and agreement of all Greeks who are peace- and progress-loving," he said.
"The country's interests are safeguarded through the prudent and resolute policy of the government, whereas the irresponsible attitude of people of fascist mentality and behavior undermines them.
"We shall not permit Greece to turn from a country of democracy and freedom into a place of expression of such historically baseless and adventurist actions," he added.
Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos also attributed the incidents, which he categorically condemned, to irresponsible demonstrators.
"We most categorically condemn these actions," he said.
Commenting on the effectiveness of the police he added: "they did all they should and could".
Main opposition New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said "today's (yesterday) incidents in Thessaloniki are contemptible. The rapprochement and peaceful co-existence of the Greek and Turkish peoples is a constant goal for Greece, along with the absolute respect for international law, territorial integrity and the sovereign rights of each nation. No one has any excuse, pretext or is justified in providing arguments which increases the other side's suspicions."
The city's Coalition of the Left local organization also condemned the incidents as "a violent and uncouth provocation attempted by extremist fascist elements against Greek and Turkish businessmen, and others working for Greek-Turkish rapprochement, friendship and cooperation in the Balkans."
Source: Athens News Agency