ATHENS.- People of Greece celebrated May 1st, a day dedicated to the Working Class, as well as the Spring and the flowers. Thousands of Greek workers took the streets in Athens, participating in May Day demonstrations. While many more left the cities, to enjoy mother nature. Athens municipal officials handed out a total of 40,000 free plants Saturday morning in seven central squares — Aghiou Pavlou, Plyta, Thissiou, Thymarakion, Aghiou Eleftheriou, Aghiou Thoma and Kanari, on the Fokionos Negri pedestrian street. The dispensing of plants were accompanied by a concert in Thissiou Square, attended by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis.
The main rally in Athens — organized by the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) and the civil servants’ union (ADEDY) — took place in Syntagma Square. A parallel rally, much bigger – organized by the Communist Party-backed Workers’ Militant Front (PAME), started in Kotzia Square. Marches were also organized in Thessaloniki, Patras, Larisa, Volos, and other major cities.
“At the moment governments, bankers and businessmen celebrate the EU enlargement, the working people send their own message of resistance”, said Aleka Papariga, S.G of the Communist Party of Greece, speaking at a rally in Athens.
In his message for this year’s May Day, also celebrated as Labour Day in Greece, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday said that Greece was on the verge of a new era that brought with it new challenges, new opportunities, new demands and also coincided with a historic moment, the enlargement of the European Union with the accession of 10 new members that included Cyprus.
Karamanlis noted that Europe was growing, changing and both wanted and could surge forward.
”Greece dynamically declares its presence and active participation in the Union’s course at this time, with a vision and goal of a ‘Europe for All’,” the premier added, listing employment, equal opportunities and social solidarity as the attributes of this ‘new’ Europe.
“We want Europe to be more democratic and effective, more political and more social,” he stressed. Reiterating ruling New Democracy’s decision ”to work hard to carry out our commitments to the workforce”, Karamanlis said his party would marshal all its forces in the battle against unemployment, the spread of poverty, marginalisation and exclusion.
He said the party would work to build a ”truly powerful economy with strong and balanced growth that generated greater numbers of more secure and better paid jobs”, as well as ensuring a strong society marked by justice, solidarity, prosperity and cohesion.
He also promised to build an effective social state and keep open the avenues of honest dialogue with all, seeking synthesis and consensus and the broad common ground to achieve ”our common goals”.