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Fury in Athens as Merkel comes to town
Photo: DPA

Fury in Athens as Merkel comes to town

Published: 09 Oct 2012 14:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Oct 2012 16:32 GMT+02:00

Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters attempting to storm a barricade just blocks away from where Merkel was meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonio Samaras, while small gangs of masked youths threw bottles at riot police.

While the German leader hailed the progress of reforms undertaken by Athens, 25,000 protesters brandishing banners reading "You are not welcome, Imperialisten Raus" (Imperialists out)" or "No to the Fourth Reich" vented their anger against the budgetary discipline preached by the German leader.

Two Nazi flags were draped on a steel barricade near parliament and set on fire.

Vilified for the punishing spending cuts imposed in recession-hit Greece, Merkel, the leader of Europe's paymaster, is on her first visit to the country since the eurozone debt crisis erupted almost three years ago.

Merkel has become a hate figure in Greece over the tough spending cuts imposed on the country in return for promised loans and debt relief worth about €347 billion ($448 billion).

She has even been depicted as Adolf Hitler in Greek tabloid caricatures.

On her first visit to Greece in five years, Merkel said: "I am deeply convinced that this tough path is worth it and Germany wants to be a good partner. "A lot has been achieved. There is still a lot to do and Germany and Greece will work very closely together," she added.

Samaras, a conservative who took office after elections in June, responded: "Greece is determined to keep its promises and overcome the crisis... the Greek people are bleeding right now, but they are determined to win the battle of competitiveness."

Merkel's visit 'pours oil on fire'

Merkel's visit comes at a crucial time for Athens, which is locked in negotiations with its international creditors over a €13.5-billion package of further cuts in order to win further bailout funds.

Berlin and Athens have both sought to sell Merkel's visit as a gesture of solidarity and encouragement for Greece's reform efforts, but many Greeks said the trip only served to fan anger.

Christina Vassilopoulou, a 37-year-old teacher said she had turned up to protest "the decisions taken at European meetings where Merkel manipulates the participants."

"I have a doctorate and I make 900 euros a month, 400 less than before. We have children that go hungry and most of the parents are unemployed," she said.

Online hackers group Anonymous said it had attacked a number of Greek government sites.

"We, as Anonymous, are next to the Greeks claiming their freedom. We are next to a people who have fought against the German occupying forces," it said.

Vana Koronaiou, a shop owner selling German-made handbags near Syntagma Square, said: "This visit pours oil on the fire.

"If she wanted to help, she should have done it sooner," she told AFP.

The German chancellor is also scheduled to meet President Carolos Papoulias and a delegation of Greek and German businessmen before departing in the evening.

Shortly before her arrival, Greece's international creditors - the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank - piled further pressure on Athens to live up to its austerity pledges made in exchange for crucial loans.

Greece is counting on a positive outcome from the EU-IMF talks to unblock a €31.5-billion installment from Greece's EU-IMF bailout package, which is needed to recapitalise banks and repay outstanding domestic debts in a country that is heading for a sixth straight year of recession.

Samaras said Friday that his country could not take more bitter medicine and warned that if the next aid tranche did not arrive soon, state coffers would be empty by November. Greece's debt amounted to about 160 percent of gross domestic product in 2011, according to official figures.

International creditors on Monday gave Athens an October 18 deadline - the date of the next European Union summit - to implement reforms in exchange for slice of loan, which has been pending since June.

"We stressed that before the next disbursement, Greece clearly and credibly should demonstrate its commitment to fully implement the programme - and 89 prior actions from March should be implemented by the 18th of October at the latest," Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said at the close of talks with finance ministers from the 17-nation single currency area.

AFP/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:33 October 9, 2012 by MrNosey
I notice the protest sign said "Frau Merkel get out" but didn't include "and take your money with you".
15:22 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
That is because the money is already taken and they are left to pick up the tab. :-)
15:49 October 9, 2012 by adipk
They are not but you are stupid. why you gave them money.
15:51 October 9, 2012 by Zubair Khan
@Mr Nosy: All love money so the Greeks. Hatred is only for Merkel not for her money. It is a strange world.
16:09 October 9, 2012 by sonriete
This Middloe Eastern country has received more German money per capita than any other place on Earth, and billions more are on the way.

I guess that is not nearly enough for them, maybe if Germany doubles or triples their payouts they will stop their protests.
17:04 October 9, 2012 by ChrisRea
Oh, they finished putting in jail their corrupt politicians that indebted the country and now they protest against Merkel? That was fast. Oh, wait, they put no one in jail.
17:13 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Correct ChrisRea. The corrupt politicians should be in jail. Including Frau Merkel.
17:23 October 9, 2012 by tedesco
@Berlin fuer alles

Wow! Now I'm really curious... Why should she?
17:44 October 9, 2012 by schneebeck
"We, as Anonymous, are next to the Greeks claiming their freedom. We are next to a people who have fought against the German occupying forces," it said.

OK, then, don't take the 31.5 billion Euros, no problem. Freedom, above all, you're right.

But, not taking the money, I understand would cause much more hardship for everybody, and even less "freedom". Is that right?
17:50 October 9, 2012 by IchBinKönig
The money does not go to the Greek people. The money goes to the banks (mostly non-Greek banks) to pay off their debt. Those people protesting aren't seeing any of the money that you People are so ready to 'not send them'. This is the situation that will spread across the 'brilliant notion' that is the Euro zone.
18:04 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Lots of BILD readers on TheLocal I see. Should have expected that.

Correct ichBinkönig. And these people will end up paying back this money. No wonder they don't want to.
18:06 October 9, 2012 by roboni
Thank you IchBinKoenig!! You are so right! The money is going to banks like Deutsche Banks who made shaddy investment deals in the States, Spain and in Greece. If I make a bad choice in my investments I lose. So why not the banks when they do the same thing? Why are the people paying for the banks mistakes? Anyway if things don't change quickly the same thing will happen here. And then is the Bild Zeitung going to call the Germans lazy too? The people have any right to protest over these phony austerity measures. Over 200,000 small businesses have close in Greece in the last two years. Not Primark, H&M, P&C but small mom and pop businesses that helped sustain whole families and the economy. The Germans are acting like sheep and believing everything Das BIld shucks out to them. Wake-up people!!! In my neighbor hood alone small shops are gone and we have four shopping malls on one street. Hello? Don't you see what they are doing?
18:15 October 9, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ Berlin fuer alles

'And these people will end up paying back this money. No wonder they don't want to.'

IF, a very big IF, the Greeks end up paying back these 'bailouts', the repayment will NOT be going back to the German Taxpayer. Thanks EU!

The German tax payer buys control of the rest of Europe for their Government, then the German Government will collect the Miete(Rent), not the German Tax payer.

It has nothing to do with the banks, it has everything to do with the Government insisting on sending money to those banks.
18:17 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
bang on the button ichbinkönig. Now the banks and the German government control the EU at the tax payers expense. Tax payers in Germany also will be paying for this re-structuring of wealth for generations. The Germans should also be protesting like the Greeks against the government.
18:19 October 9, 2012 by Englishted
If I was Greek and there ,I would be on the street as well.

The ones who caused this problem are not the ones who are picking up the pieces or suffering "tough path".
18:24 October 9, 2012 by marimay
As long as merkies bank buddies are happy.

EU = NWO

Good luck!
18:27 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Maybe time to make Merkels bank buddies unhappy then. I wonder what would happen if everyone withdrew their savings and bought dollars instead? The government and banks have used such scare tactics on EU citizens, maybe use it back on the banks and government. Would be interesting to hear how this might pan out. LOL
18:35 October 9, 2012 by IchBinKönig
This is where the moderate left and right come together. Historically, very dangerous for standing status quo.

However, the Force(German Propaganda) is strong with this one. Merkel is more popular than ever... Looks like the same strange polls we have in a lot of places these days`. its meant to create a + narrative where there isn't one.
18:41 October 9, 2012 by likosmokeses
Picture shows Traga's brainwashed lovers.

Greece went bankcrupt and they asked for higher income.

Bild's readers are Nobel contenders compared to them.
18:41 October 9, 2012 by Rischart99
The problem for Greece is that so many of them did hide their savings in foreign currencies and so didn't pay any taxes but voted for huge public expenditure. Much of this is invested in London property.

Maybe they should exit the Euro and watch their savings be decimated by devaluation and inflation, or maybe they should stop protesting and actually get on with some work and accept the massive assistance that currently props up their nation. Amazing how your GDP will reduce if you spend so much time smashing up your own country then trying to find someone else to blame.......
18:57 October 9, 2012 by smart2012
Rischart99, I would like to remind u than until not so long ago Germany has enjoyed making business with Greece and selling them trains, submarines, Phone networks etc etc. Then suddenly the country treating greeks like idiots was Germany (driven by Bild and poor merkel leadership). So of course Greek are against merkel. No one say Greece should not improve, however verkel has brought this to a too far extreme. And those are the results.

And everyone knows that most of the money needed by Greece are needed to pay off debt to German banks and companies...
19:06 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Too add to smart2012's point.

This debt to German banks and companies was in order for Greek to buy German products. Everything with the Euro is geared towards Germany's elite making massive profits through exports. They have cheapened labour in Germany and are now imposing austerity on other EU countries to keep this Euro gravy train afloat for themselves. We the proletariat are being made row harder, faster and for longer and longer in our lives.
19:59 October 9, 2012 by IchBinKönig
You are only seeing it partly. The debt was created consciously with the Eurozobe system. To gain control. Just a cog in the machine to gain control of orher sovereing nation states. German products being sold to indenture the Greeks just sweetens the pot. And who cares that ONCE uPON A TIME the Greeks bought German products while tying their own Noose. indentured servitude. Those days are over, its 2012. What excuse is there now????
20:02 October 9, 2012 by sonriete
While it is true much of the bailout money will go to banks, the loans the banks granted in the first place did in fact finance lifestyles for the Greek people that were far beyond their means.

Especially in the bloated public sector vast numbers of people were overpaid for very little work and then received generous public pensions at very young ages.

This is why Greece is broke.

And also, very few of them ever paid their fair taxes, so now Germany must send boatloads of money to get them out of their mess.
20:06 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
sonriete. If you take a loan out from a bank what happens? They look for security. If a bank does not look for this security they have a bad business module and bad business practices. If a bad business fails then that is that. Tough luck for the investors. But if a bank with bad lending practices fails why do we have to bail it out? Consider this in light of what is happening around the Eurozone and wonder to yourself why this is so. I guarantee the longer you think about it logically the more baffled you will become.
20:14 October 9, 2012 by IchBinKönig
They looked at the security of the German Tax payer in euro system. Not the Greek tax payer. it's why the Greeks had so much credit to buy so much German s;:t
20:45 October 9, 2012 by MrNosey
Germany doesn't lend money to their own banks via Greece you idiots. Greeks have received money from the EU regional funds every year since joining the EU. They are the country which has received most money of any EU country - already billions of Euros and this is not including ANY bailout money. While German workers had pay restraint, the Greeks, Irish and Spanish were giving themselves huge pay rises - and guess which country gave it's workers the highest average pay rise of 20%... that's right, Greece. Greeks are corrupt, lazy ungrateful feckers and the EU should just make a big fence on the EU side of the Greek border and then leave the Greeks to themselves. I guess they will be very happy with their goats.
20:51 October 9, 2012 by Paranoid_Android
Haha! Exactly what I was going to say Mr. Nosey!
21:06 October 9, 2012 by IchBinKönig
'About a third of Greek debt is in public hands (34.8% is attributable to the IMF, ECB and European governments), roughly another third is in Greek hands (28.8%, essentially for banks) with the remainder (36.4%) held by non-Greek private investors.' Oct '11

1/3 in Greek hands. Guess the other 2/3 has nothing to do with lending to their own banks via bailouts?

YOU IDIOT!
21:14 October 9, 2012 by sonriete
god help us if the Greeks would look around their own neighborhood (middle east) for a bail out. Their neighbors Saudia Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi are all sittings on hundreds and hundreds of billions of unearned wealth, while Germany must borrow every cent that we use to bail out the south. why must they always look north for handouts when so much exists right where they are? Because they know we will always give in in the end. And all that money they have spent, some was on German products, but plenty went to buy Saudi oil as well.
21:22 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@sonriete. And Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy? What is your take on them?

Should be interesting to hear your distorted view as I don't read BILD.
21:23 October 9, 2012 by smart2012
Two answers for mr nosey.

1. Bild type

Germans leave in an ugly country, with bad weather, bad food and bad landscape. That is why it is ok that they work, to pay for people who leave in wonderful Greece.

2. Educated type

Greek people did not get any of the German money, Greek government got them to pay debts to German banks/companies. This is a circle, German tax payers at the end pay for German banks and companies profit.

Which one do u prefer?
21:37 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
From what I have read of Mr.Nosey I reckon he prefers the BILD version. Easier to read and digest for the masses who are also German voters. Angie is playing a blinder for the Elites in Germany. Just look at the wealth gap increasing as a result.
21:44 October 9, 2012 by smart2012
I would be more drastic on Frau verkel. She is just doing what German lobbies tell her to do. And Bild is building the frame around for the uneducated masses.

This is very dangerous
21:46 October 9, 2012 by joysonabraham
ha...after long time people started finding each other as idiots here:)

then i noticed something similar too. Aren't the protesting Greeks who call Germans with nasi names the ones who gave the Greek nasi party the biggest thumps up in last election.
22:03 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
That often happens as a protest vote. The Greeks are very peeved off with their government and rightly so.
23:27 October 9, 2012 by sonriete
@Berlin fuer Alles;

Yes, I do think all of the PIIGS have lived far beyond their means since EMU, and I think the money went many places other than to buy German made goods.

Germany has been a top exporter the whole world over for decades before EMU, people the world over buy goods made by BMW, Mercedes Benz, Bosch, Miele, etc. because of their reputation for high quality.

You always make it sound as though German export prowess began the day EMU came into force and that Germans would be starving without it.

Frankly, I think German companies would be wiser to focus on new markets in Brazil and China and Russia rather than in the bankrupt unproductive PIIGS.
23:55 October 9, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@sonriete.

Yes, agreed German products are renound for high quality and yes Germany has been an exporter since before the Euro. But since the emergence of China as a world power in manufacturing and exporting Germany could not compete and the strong DM was a major hindering factor. The weaker Euro has undoubtedly benefited German exports to such an extent that they can compete somewhat in the export market. However, this is apparently at the expense of the weaker economies who find the Euro too strong.

Take Iceland for example. They had a problem with bankrupt banks but without the restraint of the EU and the Euro they were able to burn the bond holders as should have been done in Ireland and were also able to devalue their own currency and rebuild. They are now doing fine without austerity being imposed on them like Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and probably Italy.
01:06 October 10, 2012 by herr_james
Wow. Going by these comments you'd think the EU was only Germany & Greece. This is only one example of the extreme differences that must be reconciled for Europe to unite. Both countries in this example should be aware of how futile & dangerous it is to simply blame others as a solution.

It gets us nowhere but back to the same problems.

I hope people don't just comment here so quickly, but also take time to research other sides to this issue, rather than expecting the media (bild or others) to balance things and represent people fairly.

Isn't that just like trusting banks and politicians to balance everything?
02:59 October 10, 2012 by franconia
Listen up Socialists , Greens and Merkel haters in this Forum. Greeks are Lazy ! Period ! Is Finland , Norway, Holland going down the Tube?
04:01 October 10, 2012 by ears
Aye, I'm not sure on all this (this isn't ignorance, this is a question), but why don't either countries leave? Is Germany gaining, in the long run, essentially control of the EU, or would germany be better of not having to contribute money towards the bailouts. I'm speaking strictly Germany, taking all other factors out of the equation (so don't reply with a moral/political answer if possible).

On that factor, What of France, is the anger from Greece only directed towards Germany or is it directed at France as well, my understanding was that France was doing economically good too.
05:25 October 10, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ franconia

'Greeks are Lazy !'

Agreed, but the socialist here don't want to hear it. They stand in solidarity with what the Greek Unions tell them.
07:43 October 10, 2012 by grimbax
Yep, a lot of half knowledge flying around in this discussion here.

I am not the spring of wisdom either, but as a German I can say that the products sold to Greece on dept that caused part of their dependancy have been produced by German engineers and low class factory workers (a few of them are even from Greece). It is rediculous to blame Germany as a country for offering their technology and innovations while they didnt even get paid for it in reply.

Sure the Brechtian revolutionaries here are right saying that the banks and both side's governments are majorly responsible for this fatal financial depency, but what is the consequence? Going to grandma the next time you want to get a loan for your house, because all our banks closed? Or maybe we will be asking the Chinese government, because they have so much money?

Anti-capitalistic socialism always fails when it comes to reality and you ask them for a working concept to substitute the current one. Change? -> Yes, Revolution? -> can be necessary, Socialist Anarchie? -> No!
09:01 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
The point is that the Greeks have been demonised in the German press purely because they feel agrieved. Their way of life was sold from under their feet by their government at the encouragment of the German government. The don't have the work ethic of Germany and don't want it. Germany is basically a factory producing profits for the elites in Germany. The euro is working for these people. The German government encouraged Greece to join the Euro even though it was obvious back then that their economy was not qualified for the EuroZone. But that didn't stop them from being let in as it was what Germany needed at the time for the EuroZone. Now this mistake has to be paid for and the German press are slinging dirt at the Greeks because they don't want to be like the Germany and 'live to work'. The mistake was made over a decade ago by encouraging them into the EuroZone and allowing them in. Now the German politicians should shut up and do what is necessary to rectify their mistake along with the Greek government if they want to save their precious Euro. The Greeks are fully justified in demonstrating against Angie and the German government. They have also lynched a few of their own politicians which is something the Portugese, Irish and Spanish should also look at.
09:06 October 10, 2012 by catjones
Are the germans the ones with the character defects or the Greeks? After reading the binary comments I can't tell which is which and I feel the need to pick a side. 'The monkey's confused'.
09:07 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Catjones, Maybe both have differing defects and should not be joined at the hip. ;-)
10:13 October 10, 2012 by Falkensee
Opinions are like a**holes, everybody has one.

Most of the people in this Forum studied economics but prefer wasting their time writing opinions in Internet Blogs.Generalizing is easy!Germans are nazis and greeks are lazy.And what about you?You are stupid then...

Go buy yourself an iPad to relax!

Posting ideas in the web/facebook is pathetic thats why i hate myself!

But its ok...at least i dont pretend to be happy!
10:24 October 10, 2012 by grimbax
@ catjones @ Berlin fuer alles

well, basically most of us share the same defect: we usually chose the easiest way, how short sighted in may be.

The politians chose to comfort their economy leaders by approving big business opportunities for them regardless of the consequences that the next elected states head has to deal with. This even creates new jobs and they are the stars of the day.

The banks at the same time see their own profit and hope that crisis comes later than everyone predicts, saving their own private money in secure Switzerland.

In so far I share your critical view of the deciders' behaviour and the system that allows them to do so. You're right the people have to stand up and protest, kick some asses that feel a little too comfortable. However, in Germany we have a saying: "Who says A also needs to say B." -> If we critisize the current system then we also have the duty to suggest practical solutions.

Otherwise we really end up in chaos like the old Kommunists or Nazis or like Robespierre after the French Revolution.

I dont envy Merkel for her job by the way, she probably has the least comfortable one these days!
10:24 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Good man Falkensee, now go back to your porn and leave the writing to those who can.
11:13 October 10, 2012 by sonriete
@Berlin fuel Alles;

Now it is the German government who " encouraged" the Greeks to join the Euro? I was around reading Bild at the time and all I ever heard was Greek governments and some other southern ones lobbying non stop to pressure the north to let Greece into the Eurozone against strong German opposition to letting them in. There was even very strong German resistance to letting Italy in, can you remember the "spaghetti euro" debates that raged at that time? So the Germans got a relatively weaker currency for a few years and that helped exports so now they are obliged to cough up every single benefit in the form of bailouts, transfer union payment, pooled debts for the rest of eternity, all to countries they have little in common with? Why?
11:33 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
I wouldn't call it just a few years of a weaker currency. I would call it a weaker currency for as long as the currency lasts. Sure there was opposition in Germany and you can be sure there was opposition in Greece. But the governments of the day went ahead anyway as the big business lobbyists in Germany get the final say in the end. You can call it the Spaghetti Euro or the FETA Euro or the Port wine Euro or whatever you like the fact is without all these countries it would just be a DM and not what the real power and decision makers want. ie. Big German Corp.
17:10 October 10, 2012 by ChrisRea
Germany was right. Greece was not worthy of Euro. In spite of Germany's opposition, the Greeks managed to sneak in by cheating (they forged their own figures). The sad story is that Greeks are still blaming others for their own faults instead of cleaning their own backyard. A good first step would be to put their corrupt politicians in jail. But that would mean to acknowledge that the crisis was ignited by Greeks and that would not be pleasant, would it?
21:22 October 10, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
ChrisRea. What do you mean in spite f Germany's opposition? They would not have got into the Euro without Germany agreeing. You may mean opposition from within Germany but then again there would also have been opposition from within Greece.
15:14 October 11, 2012 by raandy
Blaming Mrs Merkel is like blaming the messenger for the message. The Greeks do not meet the requirements that any reasonable lender would impose prior to dispersing their funds.

The Greek peoples frustration and dissatisfaction would be more accurate if they pointed it at their politicians and corrupt banking system.

The measures are Draconian by anyones standarts but the fact is the Greeks need the support to avoid a total collapse. the problem is the money will only serve to restructure existing debt.The only way out is for the EU to impose these austerity measures with checks and balances from an outside source and forgive the debt.The Greeks will never come out of this cycle if the debt is continuously restructured.
08:29 October 12, 2012 by sonriete
@raandy

Yes, but who,

And why?
18:06 October 12, 2012 by whatsup
The Greeks themselves are to blame for the situation they're in. All their wealthy people have been dodging taxes up to now, therefore there is nothing to run the country on. Maybe they should reflect on that. They should rather right this wrong instead of blaming poor Angela Merkel, who has been trying to help them. They are looking in the wrong direction. They should concentrat on getting their people to work normal hours and pay their taxes - then they won't be in the pickle they're in!
00:28 October 13, 2012 by ears
@ Whatsup

Just as an fyi, I don't know much on the entire subject but I can use google. Before you right comments, you should check what you're saying. Here is a link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/dec/08/europe-working-hours

The link will take you to a page showing averages hours worked per person within a week. This was from Dec 2011, and shows that greece has the longest hours of work per week, next only to Austria.

Lawyered.
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