Public derides president at ceremony

Several Blessing of the Waters ceremonies held across Greece on the day of the Epiphany on Friday were marred by public derision of politicians attending the events.

The main ceremony, in the town of Halkida in Evia, was cut short by the sudden departure of Karolos Papoulias after a group of people began to shout insults against the president and other politicians presiding over the ritual in protest at austerity measures that have crippled many Greek households.

In central Athens, police turned out in force to guard the ceremony at the Dexameni reservoir in Kolonaki, which was attended by Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and MPs Michalis Karamichakis, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Olga Kefaloyianni and Thanasis Plevris. They too became the target of the public’s wrath as they left the ceremony, with people shouting anti-government and anti-austerity slogans.

Speaking at the ceremony prior to her departure, Diamantopoulou said «I hope that in four months Greece will have claimed its place in the eurozone and in the European Union,» adding, «we have faith that we can change the course of events.”

In his address, Kaminis acknowledged that the difficult days for the country were not over and that we «have to stand tall, with dignity.»

In Piraeus, the ceremony was led by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and attended by New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras and other dignitaries. There too, groups of citizens, including workers who lost their jobs at the Drapetsona Fertilizers plant, denounced the politicians, demanding measures against rising unemployment and an end to painful austerity reforms.

Similar scenes also unfolded at ceremonies in Thessaloniki and Crete.

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