United States President Barack Obama’s scheduled speech at the foot of the Acropolis during his visit to Athens from November 15-16 is being reconsidered due to safety concerns. The speech, initially to have taken place with the Parthenon in the background, is not seen as a safe option following the attack on the French embassy at dawn on Thursday and a more secure area was sought for the historic speech. The new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center viewed as the best venue for the speech.
The hand grenade attack against the embassy took place opposite Greek Parliament in central Athens, placing authorities on red alert and prompting an emergency meeting between Alternate Minister for Citizens’ Protection Nikos Toksas and police officials later Thursday to discuss changes to the security plans in place to guard potential targets in the city. There were also meetings between Obama’s private security and the Greek General Staff of police, who were briefed on the U.S. president’s schedule. Sources point to 3,000 policemen to be deployed in the area for the visit, as well as an additional 500 men from the U.S. guard. Some sources say that there will be 300 secret service agents, with 60 already in the city.
Furthermore, Air Force One aircraft will patrol the area, and there will be bullet-proof vehicles transporting the U.S. president.
Fears center around the possibility of an attack, especially in light of the fact that the terrorist group, Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, has called on its supporters to welcome the U.S. president accordingly. In a posting on a radical left-wing website on Friday, the nihilist group called on anarchists to use Obama’s visit to “return a little of the violence we receive daily.” This message is in addition to planned demonstrations to the U.S. embassy in Athens on November 15, similar to protests held during a 1999 visit by then-president Bill Clinton that led to extensive violence.
During his visit, Obama will meet with the president of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Greek debt, the Greek government’s economic program, the Cyprus issue and the migration crisis will be central to the talks.