Greece Riots: EU Bailout, Economic Crisis Spark General Strike
Three Dead in Greek Rights: Investors Spooked, Markets Hit (video)
The European Union Economic bailout for Greece sparked widespread unrest ultimately leading to a massive strike, riots and three dead after a fire broke out in an Athens bank news reports say.
Groups of masked youths hurled petrol bombs, stones and sticks at riot police as nearly 50,000 striking workers and public servants marched to parliament, where a bill dictating pay cuts and tax hikes was due for debate.
Eyewitnesses said marchers chanted "Thieves!" and hurled water bottles at riot police, who had formed a cordon around the parliament building in central Athens, reflecting increasing anger among ordinary people at politicians.
The anger is in partially motivated by the anger over the tough austerity measure the Greek government will be imposing as a result of the $145 billion European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic bailout - measures that include cuts to government spending and tax hikes.
Though most of the striking workers were peacefully protesting a smaller group of anarchists reportedly went on a rampage through the city.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou condemned the violence.
Papandreou defended Greece's decision to seek aid and move ahead with the austerity and reform measures, saying the country had no other choice.
"The government understand the feelings of the pensioners who have had their pensions cut, of the workers who have had their incomes cut," he said. "But we did it to secure a future, which we would not have had without it."
"The other option was that the country would have become bankrupt, and in turn all of the Greek population would have become bankrupt," he added.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel who helped orchestrate the Greece bailout said to the German Parliament that stakes for Europe in the economic crisis could not be higher.
The future of Europe and the future of Germany within Europe is at stake," Ms Merkel told the parliament, which will vote on Friday on a package that would see Germany lend 22.4 billion euros (£19 billion) in taxpayers' money to Greece.
To make matters even worse markets were hit as fear rose that the economic crisis hitting Greece could spread to other European Countries.
“Yesterday, there were rumours that Spain would soon request an aid package, subsequently denied, and today fear remains high,” observed a briefing note from Scotia Capital.
Investor nervousness was heightened Wednesday after Moody’s Investor Services warned it may downgrade its view on Portugal’s debt in the next three months.