Greek Police Fire Tear Gas as 40,000 Vent a Nation’s Anger During Merkel’s Visit
Greek Police Fire Tear Gas as 40,000 Vent a Nation’s Anger During Merkel’s Visit - Europe - World - the Independent
Crowds burn swastikas and throw rocks at officers in Athens as they blame Germany for austerity crisis
From high-school students to pensioners, tens of thousands of Greek demonstrators swarmed into Athens yesterday to show the visiting German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, their indignation at their country’s continued austerity measures.
Flouting the government’s ban on protests, an estimated 40,000 people - many carrying posters depicting Ms Merkel as a Nazi - descended on Syntagma Square near the parliament building. Masked youths pelted riot police with rocks as the officers responded with tear gas.
The authorities had deployed 7,000 police, water cannon and a helicopter. Snipers were placed on rooftops to ensure the German leader’s safety.
Germany has made the largest financial contribution to the European bailout fund which Greece relied on to avoid bankruptcy, so Ms Merkel is seen by many Greeks as the face of the austerity measures - implemented in return for the emergencymoney - that have battered their debt-strapped country.
Ms Merkel, whose visit to Athens was her first since the debt crisis began, said she had come to show support for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his government’s reforms. “There is daily progress,” she said after talks with Mr Samaras, adding that further effort was needed for Greece to remain on a path to recovery. “This is an effort that should be seen through, because otherwise it would make the circumstances even more dramatic later on.”