The Greek government has approved even more spending cuts to try and rein in its bulging budget deficit and secure European financial support.
Prime Minister George Papandreou presented the third austerity programme in as many months to the country’s president.
It includes public sector pay cuts and tax increases.
An extra 4.8 billion euros will be trimmed off government budgets.
Papandreou said: “I informed the president of the difficult decisions we took, decisions that were a necessity for the survival of our country and our economy so the country can escape the speculators and the defamation, so we can breathe and fight, along with the Greek people, for a more just society, for the big changes that will bring development, jobs, and prospects to the country.”
He added that Greece is now awaiting strong support from the European Union.
The measures include freezing state-funded pensions this year and angry pensioners protested in Athens holding banners blaming banks for Greece’s financial woes:
One man said: “Things are going to be really difficult for both pensioners and workers, it’s going to be really bad.”
While a woman railed against the bankers: “They should be ashamed they have ruined Greece, the Greek people have made so many sacrifices and fought so many battles, they should leave.”
Despite the noisy demonstrations, recent opinion polls showed majority support for the government’s response to the crisis.
And financial support has come from one of the country’s best known singers.
Nana Mouskouri said she will donate to the Greek treasury the pension she gets as a former member of the European parliament until the crisis is over. That is 14,700 euros a year.
The 75-year-old Mouskouri – who has sold over 300 million records – said the offer was her “duty to the country.”