Greek communists call for anti-Nato demonstrations

ATHENS, Mar 17, 2000 -- (Reuters) Greece's Communist Party (KKE) leader on Thursday called on left-wing groups to demonstrate against NATO forces passing through northern Greece this weekend ahead of a military exercise in Kosovo.

Speaking at a rally ahead of general elections on April 9, KKE General-Secretary Aleka Papariga also called for Greek troops serving in Kosovo as part of NATO's peacekeeping force to be recalled.

She said the Greek troops had become "occupying forces engaged in ethnic cleansing against the Serbs".

Papariga called for demonstrations against U.S. Marines when they pass through the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki en route to the military exercise in the Yugoslav province.

A Greek defense ministry official told Reuters the NATO military exercise, between March 19 and April 10, was planned more than a year ago. It was likely to involve about 1,600 troops from a number of NATO countries, including an estimated 1,200 Americans.

Greeks, who have traditional ties to fellow Christian Orthodox Serbia, were vehemently opposed to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia last year.

Original article