Sunday, June 19, 2011

Greeks renew anti-government protests

Nationwide anti-austerity demonstrations in Greece (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Thousands of union members in Greece pour into the streets of the capital, Athens, to renew their protests against the government's austerity measures and deterioration of debt crisis.

"People should have no illusions ... (the government) and creditors will sit together to skin the Greek people alive," the Greek Communist party secretary Aleka Papariga said, the Associated Press reported.

Since last year, Greece has been the scene of near-daily street protests against the government's austerity measures, which have targeted salaries and pensions.

The beleaguered Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou dismissed his finance minister George Papaconstantinou on Friday in a cabinet reshuffle, which was intended to appease protesters and draw support for the administration's belt-tightening plans.

Papaconstantinou, who masterminded the government's five-year austerity scheme, was widely unpopular for enforcing spending cuts and tax rises as part of last year's 110-billion-euro international bailout deal.

Evangelos Venizelos, Prime Minister's main internal Socialist rival, has succeeded Papaconstantinou as Greece's new finance minister.

The European Union finance ministers are expected to endorse imbursement of a fifth installment from the 110-billion-euro rescue package approved for Greece in May 2010. If the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also agrees to pay its own share of the installment in early July, then Greece will receive a desperately needed 12-billion-euro help soon.

Among other issues that have provoked storms of protest in the small Mediterranean country is the government plan to sell off state enterprises in a bid to appease international creditors.

Anti-government demonstrations have turned violent at times, leaving scores of protesters and security forces dead or injured. The turmoil ranged from nationwide strikes and fruitless negotiations on the formation of a national unity government to calls from opposition parties for snap elections.

Analysts have cautioned against the Greek debt crisis and its potential of causing an embarrassing default, warning that it could spread to other European countries if not wisely handled.

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