Greece’s economic worries have led to the chaos of the financial markets spilling out onto the streets as an angry mob attempted to force their way into the Greek finance ministry.
Violent scenes were witnessed as Athens police were forced to unleash canisters of tear gas to quell the rage of the baying mob. The ugly incident came as Greek citizens are becoming increasingly worried over the potential austerity measures that are hanging over the country like an ominous cloud.
It is suspected that austerity measures, such as higher taxes and frozen wages, are going to be a direct result of the IMF/eurozone joint bailout, which Greece desperately needs by 19 May if it is to avoid defaulting on its debt. The proposed 45 million euro bailout is currently being thrashed out and EU chief commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso who said at a press conference that “I'm confident that the talks will be concluded soon, meaning in the next days, we believe that these solutions will be conducive to our actions and will prevent further possible effects of the contagion”.
The protesters were thought to be angered by the news that budget cuts may be on the negotiating table when it comes to working out the conditions that will come with the proposed, multi-million euro bailout. With other austerity measures already spoken of, the protesters fear that bailing out the country’s debt may come with too big a price. According to union officials the IMF will ask for measures including higher sales taxes, the removal of two month’s worth of bonuses for public sector workers, and even, this according to the Financial Times, raising the average age of retirement from 53 to 67.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou insisted that Greece was not in the business of selling short its hard-working citizens: “We are holding tough negotiations to protect what we can for the weak and the middle class in our country”, he said.