Anti-austerity groups from across Europe have gathered in Athens for the two-day Alter Summit calling for radical changes in policy from western governments.
Hundreds of social movements, non-governmental organisations and trade unions said in a joint manifesto: “Europe stands on the edge of a cliff, facing the abyss.”
The event aims to strengthen the ties between organisations as well as individuals who are opposing the austerity programmes imposed in most European countries by their governments.
“Greece has been the laboratory of the destructive austerity and so-called competitiveness policies, but can also become the laboratory of the resistance against austerity,” say the organisers.
The summit has the backing of the Greek left-wing main opposition party Syriza.
One man attending it said:
“We are here to express our vision of a different Europe. A social Europe, a Europe of solidarity, a Europe against racism, populism and the extreme right.”
A woman added:
“I think everyone understands that what happened to Greece and other southern European countries over the last three years is only the beginning. These policies are intended for northern Europe as well.”
The forum called for fiscal pacts imposed on indebted countries to be cancelled, for a moratorium on debt repayments, higher taxes on the rich and more scrutiny of offshore accounts.
The organisers claim the event is an act of solidarity towards Greek social movements in their struggle against austerity.
During the two day gathering, round tables are being held in order to discuss the movement’s alternative proposals against the crisis and draft a common agenda of action, which is to be called the Athens Manifesto.
At the end of the summit on Saturday afternoon a big rally is to be staged in the streets of downtown Athens.
Euronews correspondent Stamatis Giannisis said at the summit :
“The Alter Summit, according to its organizers, aims to bring the various European social movements closer together in their fight against the unpopular austerity policies being implemented by most EU governments. And with Greece going through yet another year of austerity, Athens was to them a most symbolic place to meet.”