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2,000 policemen will guard the European leaders in Athens

07 January 2014 / 18:01:07  GRReporter
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Starting tomorrow and during the next six months, over 2,000 policemen will guard the area around the Zappeion Hall which will house the press centre and all activities related to Greece’s Presidency of the European Union (EU).

Riot police forces, DIAS policemen, members of the state security, policemen from the special units and anti terrorists will turn the building and the surrounding park into an impregnable fortress.

In order to achieve more effective control the Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection has created a police station with a staff of 150 policemen specially trained to guard various types of premises. Units of the National Intelligence Service and the Anti Terrorist Unit will be in a specially arranged room. The policemen of the special units who will guard the meetings of the European leaders on a daily basis are trained to deal with situations such as kidnapping.

Photo: ANA-MPA / Orestis Panagiotou

There will be snipers on the roofs of the buildings around the Zappeion and police helicopters will cross the sky above the centre of Athens to monitor the transportation of the politicians and any protest rallies, and will inform the police operational centre.

The traffic police will take strict measures as well. At noon on Wednesday, they will interrupt the traffic on many streets around Zappeion where the official ceremony of the assumption of the EU Presidency by Greece will take place.

In particular, a general meeting of the College of Commissioners with members of the Greek government will take place at 11:30 am followed by a lunch and meetings with the participation of Commissioners and Ministers.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. It is expected that Samaras and Barroso will make joint statements after the meetings.

At 7:00 pm, the Athens Concert Hall will house the ceremony for the assumption of the EU Presidency which will involve Greek President Karolos Papoulias. It is expected that Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy will deliver formal congratulatory speeches.

Earlier today, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos visited the Zappeion to see the preparation works. He subsequently stated that the first half of 2014 would be extremely critical for Europe, because of the upcoming European elections, and for Greece as "this will be half of the real change".

Athens relies on the Presidency and aims to strengthen the international image of Greece. The programme of the cabinet has a small budget, namely 50 million euro. It is expected that 14 informal meetings of Ministers of the member states will be held during the Presidency, 13 of which will take place in the Zappeion.

Greece’s Presidency will emphasise the following four issues: economic development and employment, the strengthening of the Economic and Monetary Union, the effective control of illegal immigration and the promotion of maritime policy.

Tags: PoliticsEU PresidencyAthensZappeionSecurity measures
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