Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Athens Vents Anger at Angela Merkel's Visit

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Athens Vents Anger at Angela Merkel's Visit

Article excerpt

Tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets to protest the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel today, venting their anger at the woman who has been the focus of the anti-austerity and anti- German sentiment in Greece.

Athens hadnt seen such security measures since President Clinton had visited Greeces capital in 1999. Some 50,000 demonstrators marched through the city carrying signs one, paraphrasing German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, read: Angela, dont cry. Theres nothing in the cupboard to take and protesting peacefully, though there were some isolated instances of rioting.

The city center was blocked by 7,000 police officers who began making "preventive" arrests in the early morning, rounding up a group of high school students in Syntagma Square, where Parliament sits, before the demonstrations had started. Even snipers were deployed.

And despite the brevity of Ms. Merkel's visit she was set to spend only five hours in Athens she was not able to avoid the protesters' ire entirely. As her motorcade was heading from the airport to the prime ministers office, angry protesters managed to circumvent the riot police guarding the streets and throw bottles at her car.

Still, some protesters said that their anger wasn't personal. The visit doesnt mean anything different than the politics she applies, said Efi Garidi, a teacher. Were not against Merkel in person but against the politics against the people.

The Greek Parliament will soon be voting for the fourth austerity plan in a row that includes further cuts in pensions and wages. …

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