(independent.co.uk) … The vote went through in the Athens parliament against a backdrop of rioting in the streets outside as police clashed with protesters opposing more tax hikes, spending cuts and a privatisation sell-off demanded by the country’s international creditors.
And effective implementation will be difficult if an increasingly rebellious public defies the deal and refuses to hand over more taxes or absorb more cuts to pay the price for an economic crisis they say was not their fault.
Nevertheless the 155-138 vote this afternoon should be enough in itself to ensure the handover of the latest 12 billion euro (£10.7 billion) instalment of an EU-IMF bail-out fund agreed a year ago and worth a total of 110 billion euro (£96.5 billion).
Greece has been warned for weeks that the latest slice of the money would be withheld without today’s “yes” vote, allowing Greece to default on its debts within weeks.
Continuing with the payment should now be a formality when EU finance ministers hold a special meeting in Brussels on Sunday to decide the next step.
Greece desperately needs the latest aid by July 15 to meet its immediate debts, but already Europe is considering a second massive bail-out – probably worth more than the first – because of the scale of the crisis and the risk of “contagion” to other struggling eurozone economies.
But the scale of rioting on the streets of the capital and across Greece hint at serious difficulties to come for the Greek government.
AfroditeXig Afrodite Xigorou
Ppl testify now on tv that Greek riot police attacked ppl eating at tavernas & cafe at
Monastiraki sq without any reason. #Greekrevolution
northaura spyros gkelis
urgent, desperate call for doctors to immediately go #syntagma please RT there are
injured people there and rescue team doesn’t cope #29jgr
AlexMaragos Alexandros Maragos
Teargas Grenade: price 11.50€, Maalox: price 2.80€ Greek indignants holding the square
despite chemical war: priceless #Greece #j29gr
(guardian.co.uk) 6.00pm: Artemis, who was at Syntagma Square today between 10.30am and 2.50pm BST, has sent in an eyewitness account of events today. He says there were troublemakers but the police “showed no mercy”. He also says many Greeks believe there were agent provocateurs at work:
I joined the crowd of mostly independent, peaceful protesters at about 12:30. Lots of grey-haired people around, as in every single protest I’ve been to in the last month.
The riot police fired huge amounts of teargas right in the middle of the crowd – more often than not without the slightest provocation. Clearly, they had orders to disperse the protesters at all cost while the 300 Greek MPs were voting on the new package of austerity measures in the Parliament nearby. At some point, some of us were kettled and targeted; some of us took refuge in a building – most of us gagging and wretching; there’s no getting used to teargas, believe me. I have nothing but admiration for those who stood their ground and didn’t leave the Square; without a proper gas mask it’s impossible to stop the streaming tears or indeed breathe.
The police showed no mercy; you’d have thought they suffered from teargas incontinence! What’s the point, I joked to my companion, the austerity measures will have us crying our eyes out anyway – they really are set to cripple the Greek economy rather than help it. Everyone I spoke to – ordinary Greeks, many in their 40s, 50s, and 60s – agreed that the police tactics hardly differed from those applied during the 1967-1974 dictatorship.
The ‘mysterious’ thugs, who, most Greeks are convinced include agents provocateurs, did turn up at some point and broke into a bank – PC monitors, furniture, anything they could grab was thrown into the street (Othonos Street) and set alight. About 500 people seemed to be trapped in the Syntagma underground station, many with breathing problems. Red Cross volunteers provided first aid, but some people had to be hospitalised, I heard. Just now the Greek association of pharmacists appealed to the police to allow emergency services – doctors, ambulances – through the blockade, to reach those protesters in need of medical help.
As I’m typing this, from my parents’ place, about 1 mile from Syntagma Sq., I can hear blasts of, presumably, more teargas and smoke grenades. On the way back from Syntagma I could see a handful of hooded thugs ripping wooden benches and setting piles of scrap wood and rubbish alight in the middle of Panepistimiou Street, outside the Athens university. There were hardly any protesters, or indeed police, around at the time; it certainly looks like those hooded urban terrorists are organised and act according to a plan aimed at sabotaging peaceful protests – an aim obviously shared by the police, and, of course, the minister of citizen protection, who (theoretically) gives the orders.