Greeks take protest to the Acropolis

Greeks take protest to the Acropolis
# 05 May 2010 08:01 (UTC +04:00)
Baku - APA-Economics. The Acropolis became the latest stage for demonstrations linked to the Greek financial crisis when protesters on Tuesday draped it with a huge banner calling on Europeans to ’rise up’ against Athens’ austerity measures, Monsters and Critics.com reported.

The latest in a series of protests in Greece came just days after the cash-strapped government unveiled a series of budget cuts in exchange for a 110-billion-euro (145-billion-dollar) bailout package by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

EU leaders agreed on Sunday to activate the three-year rescue programme.

The new measures include deeper cuts in pensions and public servants’ pay as well as a hike in consumer taxes. Approximately 200 protestors from Greece’s communist union cut through the locks on the gates of the ancient site in Athens and unfurled the large banner from the stone walls of the ancient hilltop citadel, Greece’s most famous ancient monument.

Striking public workers also challenged the bailout deal, with the main union ADEDY embarking on a 48-hour national strike that shut down ministries, tax offices, schools, hospitals and public services. At least 2,000 people, mainly teachers and pensioners, meanwhile marched through central Athens demanding that the government stop ’stealing’ their wages and pensions.

Riot police fired teargas at a small group of protesters who threw rocks and bottles at them outside Parliament. Earlier, clashes broke out in front of the Education Ministry when teachers attempted to break through a police barricade and occupy the building in central Athens.

Hundreds of flights were also disrupted after the country’s air traffic controllers said they would only allow Greece’s Olympic Air and Aegean to carry out one flight per destination. Greek airspace is to be completely closed to international flights on Wednesday, grounding all flights to and from the country.

A 24-hour strike called by the private sector is due to shut down all services across the country on Wednesday. Public transport will also grind to a halt. Union leaders say the austerity measures are unfair because they target low-income Greeks.

Late Monday, protesting school teachers forced their way into Greece’s state television building, disrupting programming. Many Greek teachers work for years on part-time salaries as low as 450 euros a month, with no benefits, the teachers’ union said. Greece’s Socialist government rushed to push a fresh round of spending cuts through parliament on Monday in accordance with the terms of the bailout, despite the public backlash.Running a debt of more than 300 billion euros and a budget deficit of 13.6 of gross domestic product, Greece is in urgent need of funds before May 19 in order to refinance a 9 billion euro 10-year bond.
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