Police fire tear gas at anti-Merkel protesters
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Protesters hold anti-German banners outside the parliament a few hours before the visit of German Chancelor Angela Merkel in Athens on October 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO
Police in Athens on Tuesday fired tear gas to disperse protesters who tried to storm a steel barricade near parliament as German Chancellor Angela Merkel held meetings with Greek leaders a few blocks away.
Some 25,000 protesters have massed in the capital to protest against Merkel's visit, with the leader of Europe's strongest economy seen as an instigator of tough austerity policies imposed in the recession-hit country since 2010.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Greece for her first visit today since the debt crisis erupted almost three years ago amid a huge security lockdown against brewing anti-austerity protests.
Television footage showed Merkel's state plane slowing to a stop at Athens International Airport, awaited by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a large ministerial delegation and an honour guard of Greek commandos.
Greek protesters gather for Merkel visit
Scores of Greek protesters gathered on Athens' central Syntagma Square today to protest the high-profile visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has become a hate figure blamed for painful austerity measures in the debt-wracked country.
Brandishing banners reading "You are not welcome, Imperialisten Raus" (Imperialists out)" or "No to the Fourth Reich," demonstrators began streaming onto the Square as Merkel flew in to Greece. Some signs were even marked with the Nazi swastika. Tuesday's visit marks Merkel's first to Greece since 2007, before the country was engulfed by a debt crisis three years later.
Over 45 people were detained by police for questioning around Athens ahead of the planned
demonstrations on Tuesday, including a man who tried to approach the German embassy with a protest banner, police said.
Merkel's office and Greek authorities are selling her six-hour visit as a gesture of solidarity and positive signal for the country's reform efforts but leftist and Communist-affiliated unions have called a show of opposition.