Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is planning to intensify the government’s enforcement of law and order following an unprecedented breach of security at the headquarters of the Defense Ministry by protesting shipyard workers and amid fears of attempts by opponents to austerity to destabilize the fragile coalition.
“I won’t allow Greece to become a free-for-all,” Samaras told reporters on his return to Athens from a visit to Paris, expressing anger at “those who don’t understand the meaning of law and order,” an apparent reference to some 350 shipyard workers who stormed the ministry on Thursday. “The government is waging a battle on all fronts for the country’s credibility and its future so that sacrifices of Greeks aren’t wasted,” Samaras said.
According to sources, Samaras had been planning the crackdown before the ministry incident amid fears that unionists intend to ramp up protests ahead of an announcement on a 13.5-billion-euro austerity package.
The increasingly insolent behavior of members of the right-wing Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) is also a concern. A rant in Parliament by Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris Friday followed by a rowdy outpouring of curses and slogans by other far-right MPs who subsequently walked out provoked outrage in the House and beyond.
Kasidiaris criticized Michalis Kostarakos, head of the National Defense General Staff, for not wearing his official cap when facing protesting shipyard workers at the ministry on Thursday. He added that socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos should be made to “shut up” and referred to former Socialist Premier George Papandreou as “little George, the 25 percent Greek,” a reference to the latter’s American mother and foreign upbringing.