Merkel in Athens: She Came, Saw, and Left. And Wished Greeks Stayed in the Euro – Live Blogging

Posted by in Economy, Politics, Society

 Hardly had Angela Merkel set foot in Athens and the blood started to boil among the thousands of protesters gathered in the city’s downtown. Despite the draconian security measures and the massive deployment of riot police, angry Greeks moved to downtown to protest the visit of German Chancellor.

2:45 pm

Video: protesters hand Nazi Flags at iron fence protecting the parliament and set them on fire.

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According to police estimations some 40,000 people are protesting outside Greek Parliament at Syntagma and Omonia Square.

 3:18 pm

Μέλη της ΠΟΕ ΟΤΑ ντυμένοι Ναζί φτάνουν στο Σύνταγμα και χαιρετούν ναζιστικά

Members of Municipality Workers Union POE-OTA in Nazi uniforms, flags with swastika and Nazi salute. They arrived at Syntagma Sq on a jeap. They also set a flag with the swastika on fire.

3:20 pm 

A group of people tried to take down the iron fence protecting the Greek Parliament. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades. The small group was pushed some meters away form Syntagma. State broadcaster NET is reporting, that the group put fire on garbage bins and tried to cause damages to shops after they broke pavement stones.

3:27 pm

So far police has detained 40 people. Two detentions were turned into arrests.

3:44 pm

 earlier : unpaid hospital employees hurl water bottles at Merkel convoy

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 3:52 pm

Protesters trying to take down the iron fence – tension was dissolved with the aid of tear gas and stun grenades (more pictures & video )

3:54 pm

Merkel – Samaras join press conference scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

4:04 pm

Samaras:

“Today we welcome a friend of our country and opened a new page.”

“Those who bet that Greece would collapse, will lose the betting.”

4:06 pm

Merkel:

“Much has be done, a long part of the road has been covered, there is progress, the path is difficult, yet things still needed to be done in structural reforms. For our mutual interest.”

“There is success on th elevel of Greek-German conference (?)”

“At the same time we have to give spark for development and that Greece gets assess to EU credits.”

she also made reference to EU Task Force and Horst Reichenbach and German politician assigned to aid Greece in terms of  know-how J-J Fuchtel.

 4:15 pm

 Samaras: “our enemy is the recession!” [and our friend is Merkel, the master of recession... *sigh*]

 4:18 pm

While Merkel and Samaras brief the media, Syntagma Square has turned into a battlefield . At the moment the large crowds of protesters seem to have moved away from the square, while hoodies remain there.

A hour ealrier, a man suffered a heart attack and was taken to nearby hospital.

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4:31 pm

Merkel – Samaras press conference concluded

Angela Merkel said the expected: She supports Greece, but Greece has to stick to its commitments. Things still have to be done. And she urged Greeks to wait for the Troika report when it comes to release of 31 billion euro. “I wish and hope you stay in the euro.”
 
Antonis Samaras  said the expected as well: Greece will keep its committments and end the crisis and that Merkel’s visit to Athens breaks the country’s isolation.
 
“The country’s isolation”? As if we were Iraq or Libya in times of Saddam and Gaddafi…
Yes, the meeting and the press conference did not bring out any big news – not that we were expecting a breakthrough or a verbal revolution, to tell you the truth. And for this little show without striking substance taxpayers will pay at least 2.5 million euro alone for the deployment of policemen, water cannons, fuel, helicopters .and stand-by frogmen… 
 
Greek media (Mega TV) report that Merkel told Samaras that the bailoout tranche will be released at once and not in parts.
 
4:47 pm
 
Angela Merkel meets with President Karolos Papoulias.
 
Papoulias said the unemployment among youth, first among EU countries, has to be combated. “Greeks have reached the limits of their endurance.”
 
 Unemployment among Greek youth below 25 years old is 55.4%, surpassing this of Spain.
 
Merkel told Papoulias “I am aware that the situation [in the society] is tough; I came here to support Greece”.
 
Then they continued their talks without th epresence of the camera.
 
5:00 pm
 
Earlier today:
Merkel-Samaras upon arrival at his office:
 
Merkel: Nice desk you have here
Samaras: Yes, it’s the same desk of Karamanlis
 
Angela merkel had visited athens in 2007 when Kostas Karamanlis was PM.
 
5:05 pm
 
Tension again at Syntagma Square.
 
Tear gas and stun grenades as protesters run away in crowds
 
5:07 pm
It looks as if police is trying to empty Syntagma Square from protesters.
 
5:08 pm
 
A bit earlier: Amid clouds of tear gas and flying stones, a naked man arrived and started to wave to riot policemen and protesters. He was cheered by protesters. The man was a foreigner, says NewsIt.
 
 
 …and the Video:
 

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5:27 pm

A visit from outer space: Samaras takes Merkel for a refreshing walk in the garden of the Presidential Manor, after the tiring press conference.

Just a couple of meters away riot police clashes with protesters…

But we, Greeks, have seen worst: Greek MPs voting the austerity measures inside the Parliament, while outside police batons and tear gas chase with unprecedented violence the protesters. But that was long time ago… 2011 if I am right…

 5:38 pm
Merkel arrived at Hilton for a meeting with businessmen: Greek bankers, president of Greek Employers’ Association, and representatives of German Companies in Greece, like Telecomunication OTE. There is also talk about the SIEMENS representative.
 
Maybe that’s the reason why Samaras won’t let her a minute alone from the very moment she arrived in Athens. He may try to persuade her to hand him over Christoforakos’ phone number. Christoforakos, fugitive in Greece, sought shelter in Germany for bribery in SIEMENS scandal.
 
5:56 pm
 
Few protesters outside the Greek Parliament.
Greek media: 193 detentions and 12 arrests. Two injuries: one policeman hit by stone and one civilian. However the civilian cannot be considered as injury as he suffered heart attack.
 
I think that’s THE photo of today’s events
 
6:10 pm
German Media (“Handelsblatt“) pictures about Merkel’s visit in Athens
 
 
Banner: NO to 4th Reich
 
 6:40 pm
 
All quiet in downtown Athens, although still some protesters outside the Greek Parliament. And police.
 
Merkel still at the meeting with businessmen.
 
Earlier, the chairman and the spokesman of national party Independent Greeks came under tear gas attack when riot police was chasing a group of young protesters.
 
6:50 pm
 
Merkel is heading to Athens airport. Samaras was left behind.
 
It’ the Foreign Minister who will wave Merkel ‘Goodbye’ in the name of the Greek government and the protesters
 
 7:30 pm
 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel left Greece.
 
Greek taxpayers spent more than 2.5 million euro in order to secure her a safe stay in Athens.
 
And what did we hear from her? “I wish and hope you stay in the euro“. That’s the most expensive empty phrase I ever heard in my whole life.
 
As Merkel left and protesters went home, this live blogging concludes.
 
Thank you for following, reading and sharing with us humour and plight :)
 
“Keep Talking, Greece” – the blog about real Greece in English
 
PS all roads and metro stations in downtown Athens are open to traffic and the public.
 
 
 
See KTG’s previous posts on Merkel in Athens HERE and Our Open Letter to her, HERE