Thousands of Greeks protest against new round of austerity cuts

“We are trying to minimise the pain from the cuts as much as possible but we have to make the cuts, because there is no other way,” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told politicians and local officials. “I am telling you the truth, there is no other way.”

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras

Thousands of Greeks marched at an annual fair in Greece’s second-biggest city on Saturday to protest against a new round of wage and pension cuts demanded by international lenders in exchange for aid to stave off bankruptcy.

The demonstration by about 15,000 trade unionists and leftists was the first major protest against a nearly 12-billion-euro austerity package being readied by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to appease EU and IMF inspectors who arrived in Athens on Friday to review Greece’s reform progress.

A few protesters burned European Union flags while others threw watermelons and peaches in support of struggling farmers, but the largely peaceful protests otherwise passed off without incident as 3,500 policemen looked on.

Greece is struggling through its worst post-war economic crisis that has left nearly one in four jobless, pushed up poverty levels and shuttered thousands of businesses.

In a break with tradition, Samaras made only a brief appearance to inaugurate the event and to defend the planned cuts instead of making the customary annual economic policy speech delivered by his predecessors.


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