There were fresh clashes on Thursday night at Syntagma Square, where mourners gathered for a second consecutive night to remember a 77-year-old pharmacist who shot himself in front of Parliament, as New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras attempted to dispel the negative mood surrounding the country by insisting that Greece could make a “spectacular comeback.”
Hundreds of people gathered at the spot where Dimitris Christoulas took his life on Wednesday morning as the circumstances surrounding the pensioner’s death continued to dominate public debate. Christoulas left a suicide note decrying his financial situation and the government’s handling of the crisis.
There was a heavy police presence in front of Parliament Thursday following clashes with a small group of protesters on Wednesday night. Although the majority of people attending the vigil on Wednesday did so peacefully, a group of about 15 or 20 protesters approached Parliament, where police confronted them. An exchange of Molotov cocktails and tear gas ensued. Two journalists were attacked by police in the melee, prompting complaints from media organizations.
There were similar scenes last night, with police again making use of chemicals and their batons. One photojournalist had to be taken to a clinic for treatment to a head wound. There were reports of at least four other journalists being injured by police.
Christoulas’s death has deepened the negative mood in Greece but Samaras attempted to give a more optimistic view of the situation in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. “We want to make Greece work. We want to set an unprecedented positive example for the eurozone,” wrote the ND leader.
Samaras repeated his message about jump-starting the Greek economy, arguing that a lower tax rate would help. However, he made it clear that New Democracy, which is still hoping for a clear majority at the general elections due next month, would honor the obligations in the new bailout “to the letter.”
“I am absolutely confident that Greece is not a lost cause,” wrote Samaras. “Greece is not a liability; it is an asset. Greece can still make a spectacular comeback.”
Sources told Kathimerini that Samaras plans to take the same positive message on the campaign trail but will emphasize that the country’s best hope is a New Democracy government.