Clashes As Angela Merkel Arrives In Athens
Tens of thousands of Greeks have taken to the streets of Athens as the German Chancellor visits the capital to offer support to a government struggling to implement fresh austerity cuts.
Police clashed with protesters, firing tear gas and stun grenades as they attempted to break through a barrier set up to protect the Angela Merkel and her delegation.
Dozens of protesters were detained in what police said was one of the capital's biggest demonstrations in months.
Some of the activists had been wearing Nazi insignia in protest at the austerity measures - for which they blame the German Chancellor - and a swastika flag was burned.
Mrs Merkel is the first German leader to visit Greece in decades and is making her first trip since the debt crisis began here three years ago.
Deemed highly symbolic, Mrs Merkel's seven-hour stay signals the attempt by Europe's most powerful lender to keep its poorest peer, Greece, within the 17-nation eurozone.
After meeting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Mrs Merkel promised the Greek people that the "tough path" their country is on would pay off.
She praised Athens for what she described as "important successes" in reforming its economy, but said more work was needed to reduce the country's debt mountain.
"I have come here today in full knowledge that the period Greece is living through right now is an extremely difficult one for the Greeks and many people are suffering," she said.
"Precisely for that reason I want to say that much of the path is already behind us. A lot has been accomplished.
"This is an effort that should be seen through because otherwise it would make the circumstances even more dramatic later on."
Mrs Merkel was keen to further mend relations with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who was among the Chancellor's most outspoken critics at the start of the crisis.
"The stakes are enormous," said George Pagoulatos, professor of European Politics and Economy at Athens University.
"It is a seminal moment for Europe."
Demonised for her tough talking, uncompromising stance and widely depicted as the poster girl of fiscal frugality, the German Chancellor has received a hostile reception.
More than 7,000 police officers, secret agents, snipers and commandos were deployed across the capital in the biggest security drill since then-US President Bill Clinton visited Athens after sanctioning the Nato-led bombing raids in Kosovo 13 years ago.
A flurry of protests were planned throughout the day. GSEE and ADEDY, the umbrella labour unions for private and public sector employees, had called for a three-hour strike across the greater Athens area from noon, bringing the country's already anaemic economy to a fresh standstill.
Looming budget cuts have uncorked fresh social unrest, with the young, firebrand leader of Greece's main opposition party, Syriza, also calling on workers to flood the streets of Athens to show Merkel "the real Greece".
Late on Monday, police ordered a ban on protest gathering, but opposition parties have defied the decree, urging Greeks to gather at the German embassy.
Since his election in June, Mr Samaras has been struggling to agree with international lenders on a fresh batch of brutal budget cuts.
Failure to clinch a deal on the $11.5bn (£9.2bn) euro cuts could trigger a key meeting of European leaders next week, forcing them to block a $31bn (£25bn) loan instalment to cash-strapped Greece, pushing it to bankruptcy within weeks.
That in turn could imperil the fate of the European currency, which Mrs Merkel has built her legacy on, proving invaluable in efforts to keep the eurozone intact.
By signalling her support for Greece to stay in the troubled eurozone, pundits, politicians and skittish market investors expect the visit to nudge the budget talks to a compromise solution, paving the way for Europe's disbursal of vital bailout funds.
Athens has said it has enough money to pay pensions and its expenses until the start of November.
what do you think?
Brian E Gorton
Forget it Merkel.Greece is dead in the water!! The EEC is not working.
i agree greece should be allowed to leave the euro and cut its losses who much more money can we give them
It will benefit them in the long run, sooner they get it over & done with & exit the euro the better
They won't accept that Brian. Their egos matter much more than the people of europe. Its all the germans fault, you can't blame the french, they just hang on to the germans coat tales. They should stay at home and make cars, its what they are good at. empire building , through whatever means just isnt their thing, they need to admit that.
They just will not admit defeat. The euro is dead but these spoilt brat politicians are going to bring us all down with them rather than admit they got it wrong. The germans should just stay at home. one way or another, whenever they venture out they absolutely ruin everything that they touch.
Your comment shows you know nothing about the issue! The Greeks invited her,Europa doesn't need the Greeks,they had the choice to leave,they want her help,not the other way around!you are just an racist
Germany have done a great job with Bentley and minis.
joelle, your a twit.
All politicians lying, theiving, useless waste of space!!
The euro experiment is great, it's created peace and harmony in europe,...................oh wait.................
Just can't understand why the Greeks are demonstrating against Ms. Merkel and not against their own corrupt politicians and government!!! After all, they were the ones who brought all the trouble on. Ms. Merkel has only been doing her best to get them out of it again without drawing everybody else in.
Well said Leslie Richford,you seem to be intelligent,and best informed,most people here are ignorants and not educated at all,they just like to make racist remarks.
German isn't a race.
yes joelle and the germans like ethnic cleansing
Doing her best to help?? This is her 1st visit to Greece since the crisis started!!! Doesn't exactly show a commitment to help does it
Oh, don't worry, the greeks are certainly demonstrating against their own government - eight general strikes in three years...and more to come.
Easy Leslie for the same reason our socialist posters blame the tories for the mess we are in Its easier to blame someone else than accept the truth - How many times did we hear the labour administration say "its not my fault" when their cunning plan went wrong
the Germans tried twice to conquer Europe through war when all they really had to do was tax everyone to the eye balls, good old corporate fascisism
This is why it was brought in!! Germany would do this through currency. It's just a shame the rest of Europe had the same ethics in working. Greece, Spain, Italy all corrupt and mostly idle. Germany admires the UK and have done for decades, an island just of Europe. Germany right in the middle trying to prop up the rest.
good one Gavin. you put into words so many peoples thoughts. Partition should be re-introduced in germany before they have another go after they realise that the back door attempt has failed.
Now you're just being daft. The war ended 73 years ago. And fascism is not in power. It is pure capitsalism in crisis. The EU was only ever a capitalist club with rules set out to favour the capitalist gang that run it of all members. But, in times of crisis especially, even the EU treaties cannot paper over nationalist competition by each country's capitalist class - now they're all beginning to fall out. There's always been a division between the main players - France, UK, Germany, the Low countries etc and the southern countries like Italy, Spain and more recently Greece and those divisions are being exacerbated by the latest capitalist crisis.
It would be extremely interesting to find out just how much each country pays into the European fund in addition to the number of people who receive salaries and how much they get?
Its the all time gravey train.one of stella proportions. probably the real reason that they wont admit its finished. they dont want to lose their ridiculous expences accounts and mega salaries. mostly for sitting in their over the top plush buildings measuring bananas and issuing dictats like little bavarian painters.
Were not in the euro,
hurray ! amazing really, when you think of all the mistakes brown made. even he could see what a loser the euro was going to be.
If greece go bankcrupt then spain and italy will follow then france.how much longer can the germans keep doing this.the uk has a get out clause .
theses no escaping this and who's to say that this isnt what those at the top and i mean the absolute top not the puppet politicians want, control of the population using money as the weapon
our holiday in greece,hire car must pay in cash,sunbeds cash,drinks and food all want cash no receipts,we saw the supplies delivered and paid in cash,little wonder the bubble has burst and guess wot ITS HAPPENING HERE!
I find it quite amusing Greece has been in this debt ridden turmoil for 3 years & this is Merkel's 1st trip here since it started. Any dedicated person would be in & out of Greece offering as much help as possible, just shows what a absolute farce the Euro is & the morons that run it
Exactly James. Not a very good example of solidarity is it.
Like the morons running this country!!
The major problem with Greece was that it failed to work within the rules of the Eurozone Germany was reluctant to pump cash in without the Greeks towing the line The Euro will never work when you have 27 different economic policies - it can only work with one european government - something both France and Germany want at the expense of all others
England out of europe. Let the germans have it,for what its worth.
The germans should pay war reparations to the greeks and wipe out their depts.
The UK and the USA should pay compensation to the Iraqis,and Afghanistan
I feel sorry for the greeks, getting dragged into this phoney economy.
coming soon to great Britain
Gordon Brown made a massive error selling Britain's gold off too cheaply but he did a lot to save us when he refused to join the Euro when P.M Blair was all for it. It was doomed to fail and Greece, Italy et al should never have entered.
Much as you all wish it the Euro will survive. The financial 'crisis' is a recalibration of economic policies and cooperation. The Eurozone will survive and will continue to be the wealthiest economic area in the world. The EU already has a GDP higher than that of the USA and twice that of China. It is a success. Cameron knows this - as do all the senior Tory and Labour politicians. Although they promise some type of referendum to pacify the ignorant and the petty minded they support membership of the EU and the Euro. In recent elections the Greeks voted for parties that supported membership of the Euro. Elections in the Netherlands in the summer confirmed the same trend as right wing anti European parties lost support and positive, pro EU parties won.