The Greek Prime Minister has begun a five-day tour of foreign capitals, hoping to garner international support for his country, as it faces one of the worst economic crises in its history.
In Luxembourg, his first stop, George Papandreou was told the group of countries using the euro has ruled out any immediate financial aid.
There was only political – not monetary – support in the offing in Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Athens for tough austerity measures it has passed.
Merkel called for an end to market speculation that the country would default: “We have taken notice of the fact that the Greek government and parliament have adopted further measures serving the purpose of reducing the Greek budget deficit by four per cent. This is an enormous effort.”
Back in Athens, anger at the austerity measures boiled over.
Protestors throwing stones and burning garbage were met with volleys of tear gas and pepper spray from riot police.
However, the violence did not deter lawmakers.
They approved a 4.8 billion euro package of spending cuts and tax hikes, after hours of debate.
It is hoped that this will encourage European Union aid and allay market fears.
But the industrial unrest in Greece looks likely to continue for some time. After bringing schools and public transport to a halt for 24 hours, unions representing half the workforce plan another national strike on March 11th.