Friday, February 10, 2012

Clashes in Athens, PM warns of default

Greek protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in Athens on February 9, 2012

Source: Press TV

Clashes between riot police and anti-austerity protesters have broken out in front of the Greek parliament as the country’s prime minister warned of “uncontrolled chaos” if Athens did not accept a new bailout.

Shortly after Friday night’s clashes, the Greek cabinet unanimously approved a EU-IMF debt deal in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“A disorderly default would plunge our country into a disastrous adventure,” Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said on Friday, shortly after six members of the government announced their resignation in protest against further austerity cuts as demanded by the troika of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary fund.

“At this time there comes a need to do whatever is required in order for the new economic program to be approved and for the new bailout agreement to proceed. Any other development would be catastrophic,” Papademos said, adding that “whoever disagrees and does not vote for the new program cannot remain in the government.”

In the clashes in front of the parliament building in central Athens, police officers in riot gear fired tear gas at protesters, who responded with petrol bombs, bottles, and stones.

Three protesters were arrested and ten people were injured.

Amongst the cuts demanded by the troika, which sparked the recent unrest, are a 20-percent reduction in the minimum wage, 150,000 civil service redundancies, and a 15-percent cut in supplementary pensions.

The country implemented harsh austerity measures in return for the first bailout, a 110-billion-euro package it received in 2010.

Despite the austerity cuts and the bailout funds, which are meant to stimulate growth for the troubled Greek economy, the country has been in recession since 2009.

Greeks have come out onto the streets for anti-government demonstrations on numerous occasions since the austerity cuts began in early 2011. Many of the demos turned violent, leaving scores of protesters injured.

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