Thursday, July 24, 2008

Florina festival tension eased

Heavy police presence was needed yesterday at the Niki border crossing between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to ensure that there were no clashes on the sidelines of a cultural festival.

The long-standing annual festival in the village of Meliti, in Florina, northern Greece, held in honor of the Prophet Elias attracts people from both sides of the border, but there were fears things would get out of control when a group of some 30 members of the far-right group Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) gathered at the border.

They chanted slogans at a coach carrying some 40 self-proclaimed “Aegean Macedonians” from FYROM, who intended to attend the festival. Despite a strong police presence and assurances that they should not fear for their safety, the coach turned around and headed back to FYROM.

Otherwise, the festival passed off peacefully. The Tanec music and dance company was due to perform in Meliti last night.

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