10 December 1999

Spin This!

Anti-US Riot Erupts As Clinton Visits Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - President Clinton arrived in Greece Friday while thousands of leftists protesting against his visit clashed with police in the capital.

Witnesses said hundreds of police in gas masks and anti-riot gear tried to stop protesters marching to the U.S. embassy. They fired tear gas as the leftists surged through police lines.

Clinton landed at Athens international airport after spending five days in Turkey. He will stay less than 24 hours in Greece, cutting his visit short because of the protests prompted by widespread Greek opposition to the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Yugoslavia earlier this year.

``I have come here as a 'philhellene' -- a friend of Greece, and I look forward to experiencing that wonderful quality of Greek hospitality known to all the world,'' Clinton said shortly after his arrival.

While Clinton, his wife Hillary and their daughter Chelsea walked away from the plane, police fired several rounds of teargas at the protesters.

The crowds replied with fire bombs and the center of Athens erupted in violence, with youths smashing shop windows and setting garbage on fire.

The demonstrations began as Clinton was flying to Athens from Turkey, where he attended a 54-nation European security summit.

The leftists hung a huge banner on the side of one of the hills dominating Athens, greeting Clinton with a robust ``Go Home.''

Although Clinton's visit was shortened in anticipation of the protests, Clinton said Friday he was going to Greece hoping to ``talk about what we have in common'' and that he was unconcerned about the prospect of demonstrations.

Talking to reporters, Clinton said he still believed he was right to have had U.S. forces play a leading role in NATO's 11-week air campaign against Yugoslavia, the issue that has triggered Greek popular ire.

``I know that a lot of people in Greece disagree with my position on Kosovo and they have a right to their opinion and I have a right to mine,'' he said.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly supporters of the Greek Communist Party, marched to the U.S. embassy in Athens on Wednesday chanting slogans such as ``Clinton, fascist, murderer'' and ``The butcher of the Balkans is not welcome.''

Anti-Clinton Protesters Face Jail in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - A Turkish court charged 113 leftists with illegally protesting against President Clinton -- a charge carrying up to three years jail -- during his current visit in which he has called for greater freedom of speech.

Television pictures on Monday showed riot police beating the demonstrators and forcing them onto buses. Clinton was meanwhile telling the Turkish parliament he wanted to see greater freedom of speech and respect for human rights in Turkey.

State-run Anatolian news agency said late on Tuesday the protesters from small far-left parties and trade unions had been charged with ``breaking the law on marches and meetings,'' which carries a jail sentence of up to three years.

It said police released the demonstrators pending prosecution.

Clinton is on a five-day visit to Turkey ending with an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul on Thursday and Friday which leaders of 53 other countries are due to attend.

Police have mounted a huge security operation and vowed to deal swiftly with any public disorder.

Anti-U.N. Protests in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Thousands of demonstrators in southern Afghanistan attacked United Nations offices with stones and bricks today, burning U.S. flags and effigies of President Clinton to protest U.N. sanctions due to begin next week.

The sanctions will take effect Sunday unless the ruling Taliban army hands over Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden to the United States or a third country to stand trial on charges of masterminding the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa last year.

The Taliban say they will not hand over bin Laden, who last week offered to leave Afghanistan for a secret destination known only to the Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

The United States said that was not good enough.

On Wednesday, thousands of demonstrators tried to storm the U.N. offices in Kandahar after burning the U.S. flag and effigies of Clinton, said Tayyab Aga, a Taliban spokesman contacted by telephone at Taliban headquarters in the southern city.

Several windows were broken, but no one was injured, he said. Taliban guards stopped the demonstrators who tried to surge through the gates.

Clinton: Tumultuous Reception in Kosovo

UROSEVAC, Serbia (AP) - President Clinton paid his first visit to Kosovo on Tuesday and told a cheering crowd waving U.S. flags: ``No one can force you to forgive what was done to you, but you must try.''

He asked the crowd of about 2,000 ethnic Albanians, many of them schoolchildren, packed into the stadium on the outskirts of the southeastern town of Urosevac:

``Will you be focused on hatred and getting even, or will you be thinking of new schools for your children, new homes...?

Referring to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Clinton said to thunderous applause: ``Mr. Milosevic wanted to gain control of Kosovo by getting rid of all of you, and we said no!''

``Now, you cheered for us when we came in because when you were being oppressed we stood by you and we exercised military power to defeat the oppression of Mr. Milosevic...we won the war, but only you can win the peace,'' Clinton said.

``I beg you who are parents to teach your children that life is more than the terrible things that are gone. It is how you react to them. Do not let the children's spirits be broken....give them the tomorrow they deserve!''

``The American people have been honored to stand with you and we will stand with you every step of the way...thank you and God bless you all.

``The guards from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan protected the United Nations building, but people were angry saying why are they punishing us. After 20 years of war they should be trying to help the poor Afghan people,'' he said.

The United Nations has had only a limited presence in Afghanistan since returning to the war-shattered nation earlier this year. It had pulled its international staff out of Afghanistan for nearly nine months to protest the killing of one of its workers last year. The killing was apparently in retaliation for a U.S. missile attack on eastern Afghanistan aimed at bin Laden's training camps. Bin Laden escaped.

With sanctions looming, the Taliban's new envoy to Europe, Rehmatullah Safi, accused the United States and Europe of harboring Afghan war criminals sought by the Taliban, and said they should hand them over if they expect the Taliban to surrender bin Laden.

Safi pointed to Abdul Malik, a warlord now living in the United States who is sought for his alleged role in the massacre of more than 2,000 Taliban soldiers in northern Mazar-e-Sharif in 1997.

``Why does not the United States hand over Malik for trial in Afghanistan instead of allowing him to live free despite the horrible deaths of thousands of Afghan Taliban prisoners?'' he told reporters in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar.

The sanctions are expected to ground Afghanistan's national airline, Ariana. It's not clear whether the sanctions will require Pakistan to halt trade with Afghanistan, a difficult prospect across a porous border overrun by smuggling.

Clinton said the international community had pledged $1 billion to help Kosovo.

Before appearing at the stadium near Urosevac, he held meetings in the Kosovo capital Pristina with General Klaus Reinhardt, commander of the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Kosovo, and Bernard Kouchner of France, the U.N. administrator of the province.

Kouchner presented Clinton with a chart showing a general decline in murder, arson, looting and kidnapping since immediately after the NATO air campaign in June.

But the chart showed fluctuations in violence over the entire period and a slight increase in kidnappings since mid-November.

Five months after Milosevic agreed terms for ending NATO's air war, Kosovo is still beset by ethnic tensions.

Some 50,000 to 100,000 Serbs have left the province to avoid violent reprisals by ethnic Albanians, and roughly the same number remain, U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said on Tuesday. ``The level of violence against unacceptable,'' he said.

Milosevic also remains in power in Belgrade, despite international sanctions and internal opposition.

Although Kosovo is now under U.N. administration, it remains a province of the republic of Serbia in the Yugoslav federation. The United States does not support independence for Kosovo.


Newspoetry at Spineless Books