News / Europe

Greek Police, Anti-Austerity Protesters Clash in Athens

A Presidential guard box set alight by protesters at the unknown soldier monument burns during clashes outside the Greek Parliament, October 19, 2011.
A Presidential guard box set alight by protesters at the unknown soldier monument burns during clashes outside the Greek Parliament, October 19, 2011.

Demonstrators protesting Greece's latest austerity measures clashed with riot police Wednesday in Athens, as tens of thousands of workers massed on Greek streets for a two-day general strike.

The Athens protesters hurled rocks and fire bombs at police on Syntagma Square outside Parliament, with police countering with bursts of tear gas and stun grenades. A sentry post for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was set on fire, while some demonstrators smashed windows of nearby stores with chunks of marble they tore off buildings.

At least 100,000 protesters converged on the square, with many of them carrying signs calling for the ouster of the government. Lawmakers were set to vote later in the day and Thursday on the austerity plan that would raise taxes and cut government jobs.

Another 50,000 demonstrators took to the streets in Thessaloniki, Patras and Heraklion, part of a nationwide work stoppage that has left massive piles of uncollected garbage on Athens streets, closed popular archaeological tourist sites and shut government operations. Most of the country's professionals, including doctors and teachers, joined the 48-hour strike, along with bakers, taxi owners and gas station operators.

Greece's international creditors have demanded that the Athens government approve the austerity plan as a condition of securing another segment of its $159 billion bailout from last year so it can avoid a default on its loans next month.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told Parliament that it "must explain to the citizens" that the austerity measures are "absolutely necessary" so the country can avoid an even worse economic fate. Opponents of the Socialist government said its policies have been a failure.

Prime Minister George Papandreou has implored Parliament to pass the new austerity plan. The first vote is scheduled for Wednesday night, with a second austerity vote sometime Thursday.

Some lawmakers from Papandreou's Socialist party oppose the austerity measures, although they are still expected to pass it. Previous spending cuts have failed to make a dent in Greece's massive debt, which stands at 162 percent of its economic output.

Greece's economy is mired in the third year of a recession. The country's jobless rate hit 16.5 percent in July, just below the record set in May. Young workers were the hardest hit, with two in five without a job.

Unions in another financially troubled country, Portugal, have called for a nationwide general strike on November 24. They are upset that the government plans more spending cuts, including on salaries for government workers.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has called the country's financial state a national emergency. But Portugal was required to adopt the spending cuts and tax increases so it could secure its $108 billion international earlier this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid