As if Greece didn't have it bad enough already, what with the crippling austerity, massive unemployment and fascists as their local police force, Angela Merkel took an easyJet over recently for a mini-break just to make sure they're all behaving. So far, Greece has been allocated £190 billion worth of bailout cash, a great deal of which has been lifted from the pockets of German taxpayers. In order to receive the next segment before the country goes officialy bankrupt in November, they have to make a further €13 billion in cuts. For a country in its fifth year of recession, that's looking like a very tall standing order.
Merkel was over to check that Greece's new coalition government, led by Antonis Samaras, was busy implementing the cuts so the Greeks could get their cash. With Merkel and Germany being blamed for the austerity measures heaped onto the Greek populace, Angie's visit wasn't going to be well received, so the Greek government didn't overreact AT ALL.
Seven thousand police were drafted into Athens, a protest exclusion zone was set up, armoured barriers blocked streets and pre-arrests were made, including a bunch of school kids on their way to class before any protests even started. Fortress Greece was here, making sure the only Greeks Merkel got to meet were politicians and police. In reaction to the draconian measures the global hacktavist group Anonymous launched a succesful large-scale assault on Greek government websites, under the banner #OpSolidarityGreece. Seems the police were ready for a physical assault, but not a cyber one.
Oddly Syntagma Square, where anti-austerity protesters and police have done much of their recent fighting in the shadow of the Greek parliament, did not fall under the protest ban and so thousands began gathering on Tuesday morning to welcome the German Chancellor. Some even had the sensitivity to dress as Nazis. (See what they did there?) While Merkel was sipping tea and emasculating the Greek PM, clashes broke out between police and protesters when the cops tried to clear Syntagma. Some protesters fought back with rocks, fireworks and Molotovs, forcing the battle into an early stalemate, but after a few hours of sporadic fighting, most of the square was cleared by the early evening, leaving behind a residue of an estimated 24 arrested protesters and five hospital-bound cops.
Photos by: @babylonmedia