ATHENS—Clashes have broken out at a protest in the Greek capital over
government austerity measures as dozens of self-styled anarchist youths sparred
with police in the city’s main square just outside the country’s finance
The anarchists hurled petrol bombs, set fire to garbage bins and smashed
paving stones which they used as projectiles to attack police. They uprooted and
set fire to several umbrellas at a nearby cafe, and attacked the shop front
window of a McDonald’s restaurant on the square. Police responded with repeated
volleys of tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the anarchists. There were
reports of at least one injury.
The clashes come as several thousand workers, students and ordinary citizens
staged an otherwise peaceful demonstration in the center of the city that was
called to protest the government plans for a five year austerity plan the
country has promised its international creditors.
The walkout is the second general strike to hit the country this month and
has been called by Greece’s two major umbrella unions to oppose the measures,
which are seen as critical to the financial stability of Europe’s 17-member
At issue is a five-year, €28 billion ($40 billion) austerity plan and related
privatization program that Greece must approve in exchange for fresh aid from
its European partners and the International Monetary Fund.
In a late night address to lawmakers Monday, embattled Socialist Prime
Minister George Papandreou appealed to the country’s European partners to give
Greece time and money to fix its public finances, as he tried to rally wavering
support among his party’s rank-and-file.
“Now is the hour of responsibility for all of us. I know that the Socialist
parliamentary group will do its duty,” Mr. Papandreou said. “We call on Europe
to do the same—to give Greece the time, but also the terms, that will enable it
to truly repay its debt without drowning.”
His remarks came at the start of a two-day debate over the government’s
austerity plan which is due to culminate in a vote midday Wednesday. The
Socialists control a majority of 155 deputies in Greece’s 300-member parliament,
but at least four Socialists lawmakers have expressed reservations about the
Across the country, public services were shut Tuesday by the strike, with
central and local government offices closed, while public hospitals were
operating on skeleton staff and postal operations were suspended.
Schools and universities were also closed as tens of thousands of teachers
and professors walked off the job. They were joined by workers at state-owned
companies—many slated for privatization—with select bank employees, journalists
and pharmacists also staging their own walkouts.
Transportation services around Greece were severely disrupted with rail and
ferry operations suspended and air traffic controllers planning a series of work
stoppages that led to the cancelation of dozens of flights. Public transport
around the capital, Athens, ground to a halt, with only the city’s subway system
continuing to operate to allow workers to join in mass rallies scheduled for
later in the day.
In a statement, public-sector umbrella union ADEDY said that the strike would
be a “catalyst” for overturning the government’s austerity plan. It would also
mark a turning point for Greece to escape “the bonds of its creditors, the loan
sharks and the government’s policies who are endeavoring to sell out the
In May last year, Greece narrowly avoided default with the help of a €110
billion bailout from its euro-zone partners and the IMF in exchange for fiscal
and economic reforms. But facing still prohibitively high borrowing costs on
international markets, Greece is now seeking about €100 billion in fresh aid to
cover its borrowing needs for the next three years.
The European Union and IMF, however, have demanded that the country pass the
austerity plan, implementing legislation and a related €50 billion privatization
program before they disburse any fresh aid to the cash-strapped country.
Greece faces a cash crunch in mid-July and is counting on euro-zone finance
ministers to release the next tranche of its existing loan before then. A
special meeting of those ministers has been called for July 3 to decide whether
to release that disbursement.
Jitters over whether Greece will pass the austerity measures have rocked
European financial markets, stoking fresh fears of contagion should parliament
fail to implement the austerity package.
On Monday, bond prices of high-debt governments such as Portugal and Ireland
fell further amid fears those countries could follow Greece into a default. Such
contagion fears are also putting pressure on Italian debt, which returned to
market focus after Moody’s ratings agency last week threatened to downgrade
Italy’s sovereign credit rating. Italy now has to pay the highest premium over
equivalent German government bonds since the launch of the euro.
—Terence Roth in London contributed to this article.
We in Ireland should watch as this is our final faith, Greece is been sold off piece by piece ,but at least the Greeks have the balls to get up and fight !
We in Ireland are going to have to leave the euro or get booted out. The powers in Europe are ignoring us because the politicians that we have elected are nothing more than mouthpiece for them .They are bought and paid for with lucrative jobs in Europe and lottery pensions. There is no opposition here in Ireland as the unions are also part of the status quo.
The last time Jack o Connor called a demonstration he was himself booed off the stage as the demonstrators realized they were been used by the unions to enforce the coke park deal that would only save the jobs of the chosen few and keep themselves in their plush jobs with enormous salaries ,that are many times the average wage. No my friends we the ordinary people must take action ourselves and we must become vocal and present on the streets.
That’s right we must stay on the streets to keep the crooked politicians in cheque as they are already selling off our country to their buddies .will we wait until we have to pay to bring our children to the local forest, Yesterday a call went out to the local authorities to privatize local services .the health board got the same instructions. I bet that every government department got the same instructions sell off anything you can, cut services and introduce new charges .So much for no new taxes.
For god sake wake up Ireland!
- Greeks strike ahead of austerity vote (theglobeandmail.com)
- Greek Parliament May Reject Eu/imf Austerity Measures in Historic Vote on Wednesday: Future of Euro Hangs by a Thread (birdflu666.wordpress.com)
- Greece braces for 48-hour general strike (cbc.ca)
- Greece faces general strike, more cuts planned (ctv.ca)
- Greece declares war on austerity cuts (rt.com)
- Greek MP In Austerity Vote Rebellion Warning (news.sky.com)
- Protests in Greece block Parliment as lawmakers debate austerity plan (oregonlive.com)
- Greeks Gather To Protest Austerity Measures, Some With Violence (huffingtonpost.com)
- Financial Times: Maybe Greek MPs would be right to say No (πρωτότυπο κείμενο στα αγγλικά και μετάφραση στα ελληνικά) (dikaiopolis.gr)
- NYT: Political turmoil, markets in vicious cycle (msnbc.msn.com)
- Athens struggles to win backing for austerity plan – Business – Mail & Guardian Online (yzerfonteinchronicles.blogspot.com)