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Desperate Greeks Greet Germany's Merkel with Anti-Austerity Message

Security elevated to high alert as German Chancellor Angela Merkel presses coalition government to meet demands

Common Dreams staff

As German chancellor Angela Merkel touched down in Athens on Tuesday, Greek security forces were making "preventative detentions" of young people on the streets near Syntagma Sqare and re-inforcing security barricades around Parliament.

Merkel arrives in Greece to apply public (and private) pressure to the ruling coalition government that has yet to implement another round of austerity measures demanded by the troika —the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Live stream of Syntagma Square:

Merkel will meet with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, President Karolos Papoulias and other coalition partners, but not with officials from leftist opposition SYRIZA, which has promised to bring its member into the streets today to join the protesters against the German push for deeper cuts.

SYRIZA's leader, Alexis Tsipras, was indignant ahead of Merkel's arrival. "She does not come to support Greece, which her policies have brought to the brink. She comes to save the corrupt, disgraced and servile political system," said Tsipras. "We will give her the welcome she deserves."

As Ekathimerini reports, security will be near record highs throughout the city for Merkel's visit:

Some 7,000 police officers will be on duty -- many have been transferred from the provinces to bolster the force’s presence in Athens -- with snipers set to guard the hotel where Merkel is to stay and much of the center to be cordoned off. Authorities may resort to the use of water cannons in the event that rallies get out of hand."

Rallies in parts of the city center that are to be cordoned off have been banned by police “in the interests of public safety and the city’s socioeconomic life,” a move that provoked rebukes from unionists and from the junior coalition partners, socialist PASOK and Democratic Left. The country’s two largest labor unions, GSEE and ADEDY, who had been planning a rally in Syntagma Square and will be holding a three-hour work stoppage from noon, are likely to stage their rally in a square a few blocks away from Parliament.

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