GREEK FAR-RIGHT PARTY STICKS TO PLAN FOR FESTIVAL
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10/8/2005- Greece's far-right party has refused to cancel a September festival of European rightists despite mounting opposition from local authorities, Jewish groups and the Turkish government.'We're determined to go ahead with it,' said Dimitris Eleftheropoulos, a spokesman for the party, Chryssi Avgi, or Golden Dawn. 'No one can deny us our democratic right to assemble in public.' Billed as Eurofest 2005 and backed by some of the Continent's leading neo-Nazi groups, the event promises 'racial rock music,' and 'inspiring messages,' according to the Chryssi Avgi Web site. It is to be held Sept. 16 to 18 in southern Greece. Members of the far right, including Udo Voigt, who leads the National Democratic Party in Germany, and Roberto Fiore of Forza Nuova in Italy, are to address the festival. Organizers said Tuesday that they were hoping for an appearance at the event by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the French rightist who once called the Nazi gas chambers a 'mere detail' of history. The festival is tentatively scheduled to be held in Meligalas, 240 kilometers, or 150 miles, southwest of Athens, the Greek capital. It is described by Chryssi Avgi as 'a camping trip to Hellas, land of the heroes.' The event coincides with one of Greece's grimmest anniversaries: the 1944 massacre of 1,400 women and children by Greek Communist insurgents in Meligalas. Organizers said the choice of dates for the event was intentional. The town's mayor, Eleni Aliferi, has vowed to block the festival for fear of violence between the rightists and protesters. Opponents are calling for government action. 'This is hair-raising,' said Moses Constantides, a Jewish leader. 'We've never seen any gathering of this scale being planned in Greece.' Critics argue that the real goal of Eurofest 2005 is to foster hate and racism and recruit a new following of far rightists in Europe. In addition, they say, the event, with the call 'Turkey, out of Europe' as one of its main slogans, may create problems for Greece's shaky relations with Turkey.
©International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/