With all the grim news coming from North Africa and the Middle East, the crisis in Greece is being relegated to the sidelines. The Greek economy is still moribund, as retail sales decline and the repeated unrest drives away tourism. The country’s sovereign debt continues to increase even as the austerity measures required by the IMF and the EU increase unemployment and depress wages and consumer spending.
The solutions being publicly discussed are grim: another EU bailout, at least partial sovereign default, a return to the drachma, or some combination of all three.
Current economic conditions have sparked repeated riots. Another bout of violence occurred today in Athens, led by the Communists. Here’s the report from ANSAmed:
Greece: 10th General Strike, ‘Tahrir Square in Athens’
Athens, February 23 — “Let’s transform Syntagma Square in Athens into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, until Premier Giorgio Papandreou resigns!” is the slogan launched by Alekos Alavanos, historical leader of the Greek left, in today’s general strike across the country against the austerity measures brought in to deal with the economic-financial crisis.
Alavananos, deputy and former president of the far-left coalition Syriza, has urged Greeks to remain in Syntagma Square in front of Parliament at the end of the large demonstrations called for midday as part of the general strike called by all unions. “We are learning from the Egyptian people. Let’s do as they did in Tahrir Square, let’s stay here until Papandreou’s government has stepped down,” said Alavanos.
It is not clear whether Syriza and the rest of the left, who are putting up opposition to the Socialist government both in Parliament and in the streets, or the anarchist movement, will take on Alavanos’s appeal as well.
Today’s strike, the tenth general one since the beginning of the crisis, will partially paralyse air traffic and urban transport, and will bring maritime and railway traffic to a complete halt, with hospitals also closed (except for emergencies) as well as public offices, schools, banks and pharmacies. There will also be an information black-out for 24 hours.
Below is a video of a policeman in Athens being firebombed. Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for YouTubing this clip:
Hat tips: Insubria, TB.