Saturday August 2, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
31o C
24o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Clashes erupt at Greece anti-austerity protest

Greek police fired teargas at hooded youths hurling petrol bombs and stones as tens of thousands took to the streets in Greece's biggest anti-austerity demonstration in months on Wednesday.

The clashes occurred after more than 50,000 people marched to parliament chanting We won't submit to the troika (of lenders) and EU, IMF Out! on a day of strikes against a new round of cuts demanded by EU and IMF lenders.

As the rally ended, dozens of black-clad youth threw stones, petrol bombs and bottles at riot police, who responded with several rounds of teargas. Police chased the protesters through Syntagma square in front of parliament as helicopters clattered overhead. Smoke rose from a small blaze in a corner.

The strikes, called by the country's two biggest unions representing half the four-million-strong work force, is shaping up to be the first test of whether Prime Minister Antonis Samaras can stand his ground.

Police officials estimated the demonstration was the largest since a May 2011 protest, and among the biggest since Greece first resorted to aid from international lenders in 2010.

"We can't take it anymore - we are bleeding. We can't raise our children like this, said Dina Kokou, a 54-year-old teacher and mother of four who lives on 1,000 euros a month.

"These tax hikes and wage cuts are killing us."

The traditional summer break has allowed the fragile conservative-led coalition to enjoy relative calm on the streets since narrowly coming to power on a pro-euro, pro-bailout platform, but unions predict an end to the lull.

"Yesterday the Spaniards took to the streets, today it's us, tomorrow the Italians and the day after - all the people of Europe, Yiorgos Harisis, a unionist from the ADEDY public sector group told demonstrators.

"With this strike we are sending a strong message to the government and the troika that the measures will not pass even if voted in parliament, because the government's days are numbered."

About 3,000 police - twice the number usually deployed - stood guard in the centre of Athens, which last saw serious violence in February when protesters set shops and banks ablaze as parliament approved an austerity bill.

Police formed a barricade outside parliament, and officers blocked a pensioner who tried to move towards Samaras's office holding a banner with pictures of Greek prime ministers under the title: The biggest traitors in Greek history.

Ships stayed docked, museums and monuments were shut to visitors and air traffic controllers walked off the job for a three-hour stoppage.

Much of the union anger is directed at spending cuts worth nearly 12 billion euros over the next two years that Greece has promised the European Union and International Monetary Fund in an effort to secure its next tranche of aid.

The bulk of those cuts is expected from cutting wages, pensions and welfare benefits, heaping a new wave of misery on Greeks who say repeated rounds of austerity have pushed them to the brink and failed to transform the country for the better.

"We can't just sit by idly and do nothing while the troika and the government destroy our lives, said Dimitra Kontouli, a 49-year-old local government employee whose salary was cut to 1,100 euros a month from 1,600 euros previously.

"My husband has lost his job, we just can't make ends meet."

A survey by the MRB polling agency last week showed that more than 90 percent of Greeks believe the planned cuts are unfair and burden the poor, with the vast majority expecting more austerity in coming years.

Unions argue that Greece should remain in the euro but default on part of its debt and ditch the current recipe of austerity cuts in favor of higher taxes on the rich and efforts to nab wealthy tax evaders.

But with Greece facing certain bankruptcy and a potential euro zone exit without further aid, Samaras's government has little choice but to push through the measures, which have also exposed fissures in his coalition.

With Greece in its fifth year of recession, analysts say patience is wearing thin and a strong public backlash could tear apart the conservative-led government.

"What people want to tell Samaras is that they are hurt and Samaras could use this to demand concessions from the troika, MRB polling director Dimitris Mavros said.

"The people are willing to give the government time, but on certain conditions like cracking down on tax evasion and securing a bailout extension. If the government succeeds in that, its life will also be extended."

[Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday September 26, 2012 (15:45)  
Libya evacuees set to reach Piraeus on Saturday
Coast guard seeks boost in Aegean
Coalition agrees strategy for target of 5,000 dismissals in public sector
Illegal buildings in crosshairs
Greek PMI drops to nine-month low in July
The return to growth of the manufacturing sector proved short-lived, as the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) dropped to a nine-month low in July to 48.7 points, against 49.4 points in June, a...
Property tax surplus may lead to more installments or cuts
The government is considering an increase in the number of installments allowed for the payment of the new Single Property Ownership Tax (ENFIA) for 2014 and to reduce its size from 2015 if ...
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...
EDITORIAL
Our own worst enemies
A new study has come to exemplify the cliche notion that Greeks find it easier to excel abroad, where they fare much better than they do at home. According to research by epidemiologist John...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Greek PMI drops to nine-month low in July
2. Property tax surplus may lead to more installments or cuts
3. Athens-Patra in just two hours
4. Plans to tackle Russian crisis
5. Fifth straight day of losses on Greek bourse
6. Libya evacuees set to reach Piraeus on Saturday
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece evacuates embassy staff, foreign nationals from Libya
2. Greek exporters worried about impact of Russia sanctions
3. Greek bond yields dip as investors anticipate ratings upgrade
4. Britons stranded at sea off Zakynthos towed to safety
5. Human rights watchdog criticizes decision to file Farmakonisi case
6. Jean-Claude Juncker to make first official visit to Athens on Monday
Today
This Week
1. Wine cup used by Pericles found in grave north of Athens
2. Defense Minister Avramopoulos to represent Greece at European Commission
3. Worlds largest solar boat on Greek mission
4. What lessons can we draw from antiquity?
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.