Anti-austerity protesters have rallied in the Greek capital against bailout talks underway between the country’s officials and its international creditors.
On Wednesday, some 2,000 protesters took part in the peaceful rally outside the hotel in Athens where the officials were discussing a new set of reforms, including cuts in pensions and income tax breaks.
The talks, which had started a day earlier, were aimed at concluding a drawn-out bailout review and unlocking funds for Greece
, which is experiencing its worst economic crisis since World War Two.
“No one can live in 2017 with living conditions similar to a post-war era. It’s not right to have children fainting in the schools from hunger. It’s not right to have soup kitchens like we are in war or under occupation,” said a protester in the rally.
Protesters gather outside the Hilton hotel in Athens, where Greek officials hold meetings with the representatives from its creditors on March 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The Wednesday demonstration was organized by the Communist-affiliated trade union PAME, which is highly critical of bailout programs, which have kept Greece afloat since 2010, when the Greek economy entered stagnation. A successful outcome from the current bailout talks would shield Greece from a default in July.
Referring to the initial proposals exchanged on the measures during the talks, a Finance Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that, “We are making progress in some of them, they are asking more info for some others and we disagree on a few other issues.”
Greece has witnessed increased rallies since a fortnight ago, when Athens and its European creditors reached an agreement to resume stalled talks on the bailout program; however, the agreement came only after the government promised to introduce more austerity measures.
Nearly seven years of austerity has culminated in a spike in poverty levels in Greece. The southeastern European country also has the highest unemployment rate — 23 percent — in the European Union (EU).
Authorities in Greece have severely reduced government spending, frozen hiring, and slashed incomes to keep receiving the rescue loans to shore up Greece’s ailing economy.