Friday August 1, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
32o C
25o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Violence offers glimpse of Greece's reform challenge

Firefighters douse a blaze started in a coffee shop during clashes in Athens, Sunday.

By Renee Maltezou & Harry Papachristou

Greeks swept rocks and broken glass from the streets of Athens on Monday after a night of violence that gave lawmakers a taste of the challenge they face in implementing a deeply unpopular austerity bill demanded by the country's foreign lenders.

Firefighters doused the smouldering remains of several buildings, set ablaze by hooded youths during protests against the package of pay, pension and job cuts adopted by parliament on Sunday after 10 hours of debate.

The bill was the price of a 130 billion euro ($172 billion) EU/IMF bailout to save Greece from a chaotic default next month.

The government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos must come up with a further 325 million euros in budget savings to satisfy eurozone finance ministers, scheduled to meet on Wednesday, and political leaders must commit to implementing the measures even after an election pencilled in for April.

Papademos' government saw 43 deputies rebel in what may be an indication of the difficulties in ensuring politicians stick to the program, which include a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage -- a package critics say condemns the economy to an ever-deeper downward spiral.

Police said 150 shops were looted in the capital and 48 buildings set ablaze. Some 100 people - including 68 police - were wounded and 130 detained, a police official said on Monday.

There was also violence in cities across the country, including Greece's second-largest city Thessaloniki and the islands of Corfu and Crete, said the official, who declined to be named.

Greeks were shocked at the burnt buildings that included the neo-classical home to the Attikon cinema dating from 1870.

"We are all very angry with these measures but this is not the way out, said Dimitris Hatzichristos, 30, a public sector worker surveying the debris.

Altogether 199 of the 300 lawmakers backed the controversial bill. The 43 who rebelled were immediately expelled by their parties, the socialists and conservatives.

"Night of terror inside and outside the parliament, conservative daily Eleftheros Typos wrote on its front page.

Asian shares and the euro gained modestly on Monday and MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan edged up as much as 0.3 percent.

Papademos, a technocrat brought in to get a grip on the crisis, denounced the worst breakdown of order since 2008, when violence gripped Greece for weeks after police shot a 15-year-old schoolboy.

"Vandalism, violence and destruction have no place in a democratic country and won't be tolerated, he told parliament on Sunday as it prepared to vote.

But he said that imposing the austerity on a nation that has already endured several years of cuts would be tough.

"The full, timely and effective implementation of the program won't be easy. We are fully aware that the economic program means short-term sacrifices for the Greek people, Papademos said.

Greece needs the international funds before March 20 to meet debt repayments of 14.5 billion euros, or suffer a chaotic default that could shake the eurozone.

"It was just as hard for us to say 'Yes' as it was for fellow members of the parliament to say 'No' ... I said 'Yes', because 'No' would be catastrophic, Yannis Magriotis, Deputy Infrastructure Minister (from PASOK), told Mega TV on Monday.

Overnight, a Reuters photographer saw buildings engulfed in flames and huge plumes of smoke rose in the night sky outside parliament.

"We are facing destruction. Our country, our home, has become ripe for burning, the centre of Athens is in flames. We cannot allow populism to burn our country down, conservative lawmaker Costis Hatzidakis told parliament.

The air in Syntagma Square outside parliament was thick with teargas as riot police fought running battles with youths who smashed marble balustrades and hurled stones and petrol bombs.

Terrified Greeks and tourists fled the rock-strewn streets and the clouds of stinging gas, cramming into hotel lobbies for shelter as lines of riot police struggled to contain the mayhem.

On the streets of Athens many businesses were ablaze, including a building housing the Asty, an underground cinema used by the Gestapo as a torture chamber during World War Two.

The EU and IMF say they have had enough of broken promises and that the funds will be released only with the clear commitment of Greek political leaders that they will implement the reforms whoever wins the April election.

The bill sets out 3.3 billion euros ($4.35 billion) of extra budget cuts for this year alone.

It also provides for a bond swap to ease Greece's debt burden by cutting the real value of private-sector investors' bond holdings by some 70 percent. Greece would have missed a Feb. 17 deadline to offer a debt haircut to private bondholders if the vote had not been passed.

Many Greeks believe their living standards are collapsing already and the new measures will deepen their misery.

"Enough is enough! said 89-year-old Manolis Glezos, one of Greece's most famous leftists. They have no idea what an uprising by the Greek people means. And the Greek people, regardless of ideology, have risen.

Glezos is a national hero for sneaking up the Acropolis at night in 1941 and tearing down a Nazi flag from under the noses of the German occupiers, raising the morale of Athens residents. [Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Monday February 13, 2012 (11:03)  
Greece to help hundreds of Chinese leave Libya
Plan to restore Asopos River enters final stage
Manolada shooting verdict to be reviewed
Bill introduces new rules for funding of Greek political parties
Traders unhappy with turnover
Three weeks into the summer sales, traders say that purchases are not satisfactory. Shopping levels appear to be lower than during the same period last year, or on the same level at best, ev...
No rivals for Intralot as it bags racing bet permit
Intralot confirmed previous reports on Thursday by appearing as the sole bidder in a tender for the license to operate Greek horse-race betting held by state privatization fund TAIPED. Frenc...
Inside Business
SOCCER
One win and one loss in Europa League
Greece had a hit and a miss in the first-leg games for the third qualifying round of the Europa League on Thursday, as Atromitos scored a 2-1 win at Sarajevo while Asteras Tripolis lost 1-0 ...
SOCCER
Goalless draw at Liege puts Greens in driving seat
Panathinaikos got the upper hand in the battle for entry to the Champions League playoffs after snatching a goalless draw at Standard Liege on Wednesday. If anything, the Greek cup holders m...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
In trying to conquer, Putin unites Europe
President Vladimir Putin is obliged to feign indifference to the sanctions that the European Union and the United States imposed on Russia this week. But, being the player that he is, he mus...
COMMENTARY
Summer turbulence
High summer temperatures appear to have messed with the reflexes of officials at the top echelons of Greeces power-sharing administration. A sense of anxiety has gripped the political syste...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. One win and one loss in Europa League
2. Greece to help hundreds of Chinese leave Libya
3. Traders unhappy with turnover
4. No rivals for Intralot as it bags racing bet permit
5. Energy cost cuts even without EU approval
6. KEPE: Greek economy returned to growth in Q2
more news
Today
This Week
1. Motorists refusing to pay tolls on Corinth-Kalamata highway to be monitored
2. Euro flows reveal shift in sentiment as losses mount
3. Greece may ignore EU and lower energy costs for business, says minister
4. EU puzzles over emergency funds for euro area bank crisis agency
5. Only 5 percent of stores see brisker business during this year's summer sales
6. Fake psychic caught in Thessaloniki after gaining 35,000 from victim
Today
This Week
1. Quadriplegic woman on life support 'dies due to unpaid power bills'
2. Wine cup used by Pericles found in grave north of Athens
3. Defense Minister Avramopoulos to represent Greece at European Commission
4. Worlds largest solar boat on Greek mission
5. Greece names fifth privatization agency chief in four years
6. Greek coast guard picks up 77 migrants off Myconos
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.