The protesters who congregate in Syntagma Square in front of Parliament, known as the Indignant, were due to meet for the 45th straight day on Friday but Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis is hoping that they will soon stop camping out there.
Kaminis was due to meet on Friday afternoon with representatives of the Indignants, as well as shopowners and labor group officials, in an effort to agree on a way to improve the image of central Athens in the wake of the recent clashes between police and anti-austerity protesters.
?At this difficult time, we have to restore the functioning of the city and the whole country,? Kaminis told Kathimerini ahead of the meeting.
The protesters have been gathering to voice concerns about the state of Greek politics as well as their anger at the austerity measures being adopted by the government as a result of its loan agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
As many as 100,000 people have gathered in Syntagma on any one night but since last week?s riots attendance has been much lower. Rather than the daily gatherings, Kaminis and Attica Governor Yiannis Sgouros, who joined the mayor on a walkabout in central Athens on Friday, appear to be concerned by the number of protesters who have made Syntagma their temporary home by pitching tents in the middle of the square. There are more than 30 tents housing dozens of protesters. Some politicians have suggested that their presence is an eyesore that damages the city?s image, especially in the wake of more than 1 million euros? worth of damage caused to public and private property during last week?s clashes.
Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou said earlier this week that the ?gypsy tents in Syntagma make for an unacceptable sight.? Yesterday, Costas Aivaliotis, the spokesman for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), used the same term to refer to the protesters? camp and called on authorities to also remove refugees who have been protesting in front of Athens University since last year.