Violent clashes erupt in Greek capital over bailout deal
Fierce clashes have erupted in the Greek capital Athens between riot police and hundreds of anti-austerity protesters who were angry with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over what they called was reneging on his pre-election promises.
The initially peaceful rally, believed to be the first public show of anger against the premier’s leftist Syriza party, convened some 450 far-left demonstrators on Thursday, protesting the government’s decision to extend Greece’s bailout deal under a new agreement with the country’s international creditors.
On February 20, a tentative agreement to extend Greece’s bailout program by four months was reached during preparatory talks between Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde and Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
However, Greece was asked to submit a list of proposed reforms to the European Union (EU) in order for the agreement to take effect. The reforms were later approved by Eurozone finance ministers.
The Thursday demonstration turned violent after some 50 hooded protesters parted from the anti-EU march to hurl petrol bombs and stones at the police.
As a result of the scuffles, a number of shop windows were damaged and cars were burned in central Athens’ Exarchia district.
The protests come at a time when Greece’s biggest creditor, Germany, is set to give its vote on whether to extend the European bailout of the debt-ridden country, which expires on Saturday.
The EU heavyweight has already warned that Greece will not receive funds to revive its cash-strapped economy until it meets the commitments agreed to by its former center-right government.
If ratified, the deal will grant Athens a four-month bailout extension in exchange for government reforms.
The government of Tsipras, whose leftist Syriza Party stormed to victory in January 25 elections, has tried to renegotiate the terms of the country’s 240-billion-euro (270-billion-dollar) bailout it received in 2010 in return for imposing harsh austerity measures.
In exchange for its international loans, Athens has implemented harsh austerity programs that have caused mounting dissatisfaction in the country.
During his electoral campaign, Tsipras vowed to reconsider the austerity measures, which have caused mounting dissatisfaction in the country.
The eurozone countries as well as the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF have long reiterated that Athens must first fulfill its commitment to austerity reforms before further talks on its debt crisis.