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Greece: Peaceful anti-austerity rally in Athens attracts thousands

Greece: Peaceful anti-austerity rally in Athens attracts thousands
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By Sarah Taylor with Reuters
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Athens anti-austerity rally goes without a hitch, with demonstrators chanting in support of new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.

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A pro-government, anti-austerity rally outside the Greek parliament in Athens has attracted between 3,000 and 5,000 people, estimates suggest.

Demonstrators chanted in support of newly-elected Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis.

One slogan circulating was:
“Merkel sees you and snaps like a twig. Well-played Yanis Varoufakis,” referring to the German Chancellor who has been a driving force behind Greece’s bailout measures.

Spontaneously organised via social media, the gathering was the first major anti-austerity rally since the left-wing Syriza party came to power.

The rally came after the European Central Bank announced it would push forward the date on which the eligibility of Greek bonds used as collateral would be restricted.

Thousands in anti-austerity pro-government demo today in Athens #Greece, as a response to ECB's decision. #syrizapic.twitter.com/hWxDypzrcs

— SYRIZA London (@SyrizaLondon) February 5, 2015

One man said:
“We want our government to support the mandate of the Greek people. The Greek population is against austerity and for a Europe of development.”

“We can no longer afford austerity,” added another woman. “We can’t respond to the programmes outlined by Germany. We want to do as much as humanly possible – at least to sit down and talk about the issues in Greece.”

The site of the protest in Syntagma Square has seen violent clashes in recent years as Greeks spoke out against the EU-imposed austerity measures. In sharp contrast, Thursday’s rally (February 5) was relatively calm.

Giannis Giaginis, one of euronews’ correspondents in Athens told us corresponding demonstrations were held in all the major cities at the same time as the Athens rally.

Officially, no political party participated in the protest.

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