Greeks protesting against austerity measures on Friday blocked a major national parade to commemorate Greece’s resistance to Italy in World War Two, shouting “traitors” at President Karolos Papoulias and other officials, forcing them to leave.
The protest in Thessaloniki, echoed across Greece including in Athens where marchers held black ribbons, showed the depth of anger at the higher taxes and cuts to pay and pensions demanded by international lenders to help avert a debt default.
The annual military parade in the northern city commemorates Greece’s rejection of Italy’s ultimatum to surrender in 1940. It was the first time it had been cancelled.
“The Greek people are fighting a big battle, they also fought one many years ago today... We must unite to overcome the crisis,” said Papoulias, adding he had fought the Germans as a 15-year-old boy. “So who is a traitor? They should be ashamed!”
Austerity measures demanded under an EU/IMF bailout of Greece have helped push its economy into its worst recession in four decades, driving unemployment to record levels about 16%.