Minor scuffles prompted by a group of anarchists have broken out in Athens, as thousands of people took to the streets to oppose a vote on new austerity measures that Greece’s creditors are demanding.
Thousands of people had earlier gathered in front of the Greek parliament in Athens ahead of the Sunday night vote. At some point, the rally took a violent turn when protesters, supposedly from an anarchist group, started throwing flares, Molotov cocktails, stones, and other objects at the parliament building and police officers. The police responded with tear gas and flashbangs.
The protest was held during a three-day general strike against pension cuts and the introduction of new taxes that shut down media outlets, public transport, and ferry service.
Security measures and police presence in the city have been increased over recent days out of fear of public disorder, especially at the prime minister’s residence and parliament.
The reform will reduce Greece’s pension payouts, merge pension funds, and raise taxes for medium and high income individuals.
Speaking to lawmakers on Friday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended the changes, saying that they won’t affect the poorest.
In an interview with RT, Harry Violaris from the WAKEUP Cyprus movement described the agreement between Greece and the EU as “non-viable,” and didn’t exclude the possibility that debt relief for Greece could be introduced at a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on Monday.
There are some disagreements between Paris and Berlin as to whether to provide Greece with debt relief or not. France, supported by Portugal, believes there must be some sort of debt relief for Greece, since the current demands are too harsh and won’t allow the country get back on its feet. Germany, along with Austria and Finland, insists that there is no need for such measures. Meanwhile, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is calling for debt reduction.
“I believe there are chances for consensus, although Germany is in a difficult political position in terms of similar [situations] in Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus. Therefore there’s difficulty in accepting of… reduction of Greek debt,” Violaris said.
The reforms are part of a package deal agreed upon with the EU and IMF last July. It is the third bailout for Greece, which has been burdened with debts since 2010.
Source: RT World