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Greek Protesters Delay NATO Convoy

March 29, 2000

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) _ Left-wing demonstrators stopped a convoy of NATO military trucks early Tuesday as they tried to head to Kosovo, spray painting slogans on the vehicles and smashing one window, authorities said.

A group of about 80 protesters rushed the British, French and Italian vehicles as they were leaving this northern Greek city’s main port and heading to Kosovo to resupply the NATO-led peacekeeping force there.

The incident, which delayed the convoy for about 2 1/2 hours, reflected deep opposition in Greece to the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia.

The demonstrators clambered over the 65-vehicle convoy, which mainly carried supply containers, and smashed the windshield of an Italian vehicle with a rock. No injuries were reported.

A first group of 25 vehicles, all French, managed to leave the port before the protesters gathered, said Maj. Stamatis Lazarou, a Greek army spokesman.

The vast majority of Greeks vehemently opposed NATO’s 78-day airstrikes against fellow Christian Orthodox Serbs last year, and held almost daily protest rallies, some of which turned violent.

Communist-led protesters have frequently disrupted military convoys in Thessaloniki, a major resupply point on the route to peacekeepers in Kosovo.

Demonstrators often block the exits to the port from where the troops and vehicles depart, and have also blocked rail lines and roads and attacked vehicles.

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