Amid the thousands who defied a ban on protests in Athens to demonstrate against Angela Merkel’s visit, a minority clashed with police.
Some tried to break through the barrier keeping them from where the two leaders were holding talks.
Some found that provoking the police was not a good idea. A woman who approached a line of riot officers and threw paint at their shields was promptly set upon.
Dozens of people were arrested as police fired tear gas and stun grenades at stone-throwing protesters.
Security was the tightest for a decade in the Greek capital: anti-terrorist units and snipers among the thousands of police officers deployed.
A handful of protesters revived old historical animosities as they dressed as Nazis, trying to portray Merkel’s Germany as modern Greece’s oppressor.
Some visiting German politicians wanted to send the opposite message.
“We came here to show our solidarity with the Greek people. As a German left-wing party we are against the fiscal pact and rescue fund. We don’t want pensioners and people both in and out of work to pay, we don’t want Greeks to have to squander their assets,” said Bernd Rixinger of Die Linke party.
“Our message is one,” said Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras. “The democratic tradition in Europe will not allow the Greek people to be turned into crisis guinea pigs and for Greece to become a social cemetery. We’ll win in the end, because justice is on our side and we’re growing in number.”
Despite the size of the protest there is no sign of a change of policy. More cuts beckon – in pensions, healthcare and the civil service – as Greece seeks the next slice of a 130 billion euro loan package, its second since 2010.
Without it, the government says it will run out of money by the end of November.
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