- Clashes erupted in central Athens around lunchtime on Wednesday after rioting police tried to prevent a march that was organized by the personnel of the local municipalities of Attica. Municipal employees participating in the protest used their vehicles to block the police from obstructing the march.
Several demonstrators verbally attacked the rioting police and the conflict escalated when the rioting police retaliated by lobbing chemical weapons at the protesters. This made the situation even more explosive. A group of demonstrators tried to overturn a police vehicle during the melee that ensued.
Traffic in the center of Athens was paralyzed and the situation became chaotic. The rioting police arrested the municipal truck drivers and escorted them to the police station.
One demonstrator reminded reporters the reason for the protests. "Workers are unpaid and the municipalities cannot function anymore. We cannot provide the necessary services - services of social interest. The regime is firing people from jobs and cutting wages, making it impossible for us to support ourselves and our families."
The municipalities remain closed today.
- PM meets with local administration representatives
On Wednesday, in a meeting with representatives of the Central Union of Municipalities (KEDE), Greek PM Antonis Samaras was briefed on the "dramatic" economic situation of Greece's municipalities. KEDE representatives called for immediate assistance from the state to address the economic shortfall municipalities face.
Athens News Agency reports:
In a meeting which lasted more than two hours and held in the presence of Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, KEDE president and Kallithea Mayor Costas Askounis underlined that the country's mayors are up against an impasse, stressing that at least 40 municipalities will be unable to pay salaries in September.
Askounis said the mayors received no definitive answers from the government but expressed a hope that the interior minister will bring specific proposals to a KEDE conference that opens on Thursday.
Referring to a protest by sanitation workers in downtown Athens at the same time, Askounis said KEDE is against any extreme mobilization, stressing, however, that the situation in many municipalities is critical.
On his part, the Interior Minister said that the Prime Minister acknowledges the efforts made by the representatives of local administration and outlined three moves that could improve the situation.
Stylianidis said municipalities will receive 204 million euros from tax revenues by the end of the year and an additional 299 million euros from the state budget. He also announced a settlement for over-indebted municipalities, adding that 90 million euros in annual financial assistance will be shared by all municipalities.
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