As Pressure Mounts, Europeans Rally in Streets for Greek Dignity
'Europe must belong to everyone, not just to the Germans and the banks,' said a demonstrator in Rome
As an emergency summit concluded in Brussels on Monday with no clear resolution for the spiraling Greek debt crisis, a call throughout the streets of Europe for lenders to ease their punishing "reforms" in Greece is reverberating.
On Sunday, more than 5,000 protested in Brussels, Belgium—the site of the ongoing negotiations between the Greek government and officials with the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission—while hundreds more marched in Amsterdam.
According to reports, protesters carried banners that read slogans such as, "Our lives do not belong to creditors," and "If Greece were a bank it would have been saved."
Expressing a sentiment that has spread throughout Europe, Sebastien Franco, the organizer of the Brussels demonstration, told Belgian media, "Austerity is not working, it reduces the income of poor people in the name of reimbursement to creditors...who continue to enrich themselves."
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Echoing that idea, another protester told Euronews, "All the things they are doing now to the Greeks they will do it also to us. So that’s why we are here. Not only because of Greece but also because of ourselves."
And Saturday, at migrant solidarity marches in Paris, Berlin, and Rome, demonstrators also expressed support for their Greek brethren and against the EU's adherence to austerity at all costs.
"We are here to save our Europe, which includes immigrants, refugees and Greece," said Luciano Colletta, who demonstrated outside the Roman Colosseum. "Europe must belong to everyone, not just to the Germans and the banks."
At the same time, Greeks themselves were also rallying against so-called austerity "reforms," calling on the Syriza government, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, to stand strong in the face of they characterized as EU "blackmail." Additional marches were reported in Athens on Monday.
The wave of support comes ahead of a critical June 30 deadline, on which Greece is due to pay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF. If creditors refuse to release bail-out funds by that time, Greece risks defaulting on its debts, possibly spurring an exit from the European Union.
On Monday, officials held an emergency meeting at which the Greek government reportedly delivered a last-minute list of reform proposals. According to Guardian journalist Jennifer Rankin, who is following the talks in Brussels, the Syriza government may have backed down on some of its earlier "sticking points," including raising tax rates and making changes to the country’s pension system. Another meeting is set for Thursday, during which officials say they are still hopeful an agreement can be reached.