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The Mother of All Greek Battles, Oct 20/2011

The heat is up today in Greece, literally and metaphorically, and protesters started as early as 9 o’clock in the morning to flock towards the Parliament and Syntagma square in Athens downtown. It is estimated that 300,000 people came to downtown Athens yesterday. Many thousands gathered in 20 cities across the country. Protesters with strong anti-Memorandum slogans demanded the government to resign and/or cancel the agreements with the lenders. Maybe early elections is not a bad idea, after all. They will give both the Greek government and its lenders time, and ‘relief and hope’ to Greek citizens.

Yesterday’s protest that was meant to be the biggest of the last decades was violently destroyed by the presence of a small group of what …? “Anarchists?” “Agents Provocateurs”? There was sharp criticism again as to why the police doesn’t arrest them. Quite some journalists expressed the view that ‘these so-called anarchists serve the purposes of the government not to allow very big scale demonstrations and to scare people from joining the protests. However the are signs that today’s protest will be as massive as yesterday. It was interesting that yesterday riot police did not make excessive use of tear gas and violence as in other recent protests. It’s not clear whether this has to do with the fact that there is a new chief in Greek Police (EL.AS.) or the government finally got ashamed of all these violent scenes hinting that the country is not so European after all.

To the aid of anti-austerity and anti-government protests comes also the good weather with shining sun and temperatures up to 23° C – no wonder the Germans, the Dutch and all bad-weather Europeans want to get Greece under their control. It’s the sun, folks!

The Multi Bill is to be voted in the Parliament today. The much hated bill foresees among others 1) labour reserve for at least 30,000 civil servants 2) A -40% cuts in pensions for those under 55 years old as of Nov1st 3) decrease of tax-free yearly income from €8,000 down to €5,000, whereas the poverty threshold within the EU is 6,500 EUR. This will cost household 2-3 monthly salaries due to increased taxes. 4) The bill puts a huge grave-stone on labour rights -article 37 on the bill.

Yesterday Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told MPs that the bill is precondition for the sixth tranche and that without the bill the catastrophe will come. “If you don’t vote for the bill, there will be no next day for PASOK, neither for the country. There will be only night” said Venizelos. That’s another blackmail form the side of the government, we’ve heard everything before, this government has made ‘blackmail’ the main banner of its policies….

Anyway the bill was voted last night ‘in principle’  (154 YES, 141 NO) and today it’s going to be voted ‘by article’. It looks as if the bill will do pass today and then become law of the country. Until now only one PASOK MP insists of not voting. Decided in the behaviour of ruling party MPs is whether the PASOK officials will expel those voting against the bill. With a thin majority of 154 seats (out of 300) PASOK cannot afford to get …slimmer. Or can it?

The Troika’s final report on Greece’s fiscal progress is to be released today and will most likely grant the sixth aid tranche. Experience has shown so far that the same blackmails and uproars will happen also for the 7th tranche, the 8th tranche…

These Troika’s reports remind me of the EU’s progress reports on Turkey.  Gloating satisfaction can backfires….

Is the Greek debt sustainable? Nobody believes it. The haircut is inevitable… Reports want Germany to favor a haircut of more than 50%.

Prime Minister George Papandreou met leaders of political parties yesterday and ‘asked’ their consent. Papandreou had to confirm once more that he is desperately alone. He will go alone to Brussels and ‘negotiate’ our future, our children’s future and the future of our grand-children…

However, Greece has lost all its negotiation cards from the very first moment it accepted its lenders’ dictates without any preconditions . In fact the others decide and the Greek PM just says ‘Yes’.  It hit our eyes when yesterday no Greek official was present at the mini eurozone summit in Frankfurt. Nicholas Sakrozy left alone Carla Bruni on the labour bed to rush and save Greece. Sarkozy became father of a girl, Greece got nothing.

Second day of the strike, but shops are open today. METRO stations Syntagma and Evaggelismos are closed today too.

It looks as if a Live Blogging is due today, too, with the latest on protests, bill voting and whatever the day brings…

Thank you so much for your positive feed back, the supportive words and solidarity with the Greek people! If nothing else, we need at least psychological back up 🙂

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  1. So 300 000 people joined protest in Athens alone and few violent protesters does not allow very big scale demonstrations and scare people from joining the protests.
    Is it just me or it doesn’t make any sense?

    Also what do you think would change if there was no violence during protests?

    • yes, people who want to demonstrate get scared of tear gas and police violence. A peaceful protest could take more thousands on the streets. so simple.

  2. Thanks once again to you for your brilliant coverage of Greek news and particularly the protests and other recent events! I will be watching all day again today, I first found your site when linked to it and I read it daily since.

    I would like to beg the Greek people to please not be scared away by the violence of the hoodies and the police and the sting of the teargas. Don’t go home early! Even if you have to move to avoid the tear gas and police or if you have to bring a cloth and water to wipe your eyes and cover your mouth. Just stay around and carry out the protest you intend to, also consider occupying the area, or having a LONG general strike, like one month as a man on the street quoted by this blog yesterday mentioned.

    Here in Rome last Saturday we had the largest demonstration by the public in many years, over 100,000 people came out and for the first time a huge group of thousands of “hoodies” (or “helmeties”) started breaking windows and attacking police before the demonstration even reached its destination. The police fired hundreds of tear gas canisters and the public left before the planned speeches. They were even intending to occupy the area and not leave but everyone was gone after two hours due to the damn “hoodies.” The police only arrested 12 of these people and let the rest get away. There is much suspicion that these people were used by the Gov’t to scare away the huge crowd, even some police have said so online, asking why they themselves were ordered not to pursue and arrest these people.

    In Italy we are just behind Greece in Austerity plans and oppression of public opinion, but our gov’t is trying hard to catch up with the Greek situation and make things worse for the people.

    Here are some videos and photos of the violence in Rome that I took last Saturday:

    and also a link to a newspaper image gallery of the “hoodies” in military formation during the march:

    Anyway, I hope the Greek and Italian people can overcome these strategies that are obviously being employed to keep them quiet!

  3. and what exactly would a “peaceful” demonstration change? would the austerity measures be voted against? would papandreou change his politics? wake up: the politicians have nearly all people from the public and private sector against them (“mother of all strikes”!), if you don´t make it clear to them by trespassing (some) laws then they will continue on and on and on. just like with the peaceful strike on the 20. may, what did that change? and why are there now even more demonstrators on the street although its not so peaceful this time? because people had enough, they demonstrate and demonstrate and nothing changes, so its time to make a step ahead and confrontate the state and the politicians with civil obidience and direct action!

    Power to the people!

  4. Greece would still have had a lot of bargaining power if the government would have implemented everything they signed for at the timeframe they promised. The government and nomenklatura chose to wait and see, wiggle and lie. All to NOT implement any of the measures other than raising taxes. When part of the memorandum turned out to be a failure the Troika could, for a large part justified, say that they would work if the government would start implementing structural chances.
    By not doing that this government has destroyed “our future, our children’s future and the future of our grand-children…”

  5. why are you censoring my earlier comment? there is one confirmed 15min later than mine? are you afraid of a different opion?

    • keeptalkinggreece

      We are too busy today with the live blogging and it’s possible we don’t see the one or the other comment. We’re sorry for that. Also we don’t allow comments with inflammatory content.
      Further more, we tend to dislike commentaros who use 1,000 user-names….

    Brand new news: “Greek politicians didn’t join the EU-Meeting because they are disgusted by the good news that the father of Carla’s baby is Angie M. – At the same time Pasok had a brilliant idea to cover all international news about Greece: Since they had Gaddafi since weeks in detention on Gavdos island (Lybian Sea) they brought him back to Lybia and let him get lynched by Al Kaida. The Al Kaida-Mob of Lybia is financed by turkish tourism moguls who are upset because “the” Greeks don’t sell them their agaen islands. So they decided to create a new paradise for the Herren-Tourists in North Africa. With help of German special troopers GSG 9 – covered as tourism-dive-trainers from the red sea – they installed some nice military bases there to make the circle around Greece complete (Remenber Vlores/Albania?)
    Out of respect for Gaddafi bringing lots of free of charge sweet water out of the Sahara and nobody had to pay for education and health-system Carla decided to gave her kid a cool name…”

    ONLY HOPE: Giant-Octopussies from Seattle Sound and Vancouver-Island, befriended with the Haida nation, took the tunnel under the continents and Atlantic Ocean heading to Hades (Mani) to meet never hooded freedom fighters, greek dynamite fishers from Mani and Sfakia and together they bomb and block the Suez to kill the death-machine world trade.
    Afterwards the Pussies killed the fishers by help of Greek dolphins and monk seals from Mikri Amorgos and decided: The sea doesn’t belong to you or the Turks. It belongs to the fish!

    Estimated rumors claim the new president of Greece is Vassilis Paleokostas or Loukanikos.