Protests greet Greece's austerity measures


Angry Greeks took to the streets on Thursday to protest against the socialist government's campaign to slash public spending in a bid to avoid bankruptcy. Meanwhile the country's debt management authority announced that it had issued a ten-year bond, which may help the highly indebted country raise some five billion euros.


Petros Christodoulou, chairman of the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA), said he was already in contact with investors who were "enthusiastic" about the government measures.

Greece needs more than 50 billion euros to repay loans which are due this year, if it wants to avoid default.

It also needs to borrow heavily to finance a public deficit of almost 13 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) - four times the rate allowed by the EU's Growth and Stability Pact.

Meanwhile 300 communist union members invaded the Finance Ministry in Athens on Thursday, ahead of another major rally against the proposed austerity measures announced by the government on Wednesday.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will meet German and French officials over the next few days to seek help.

But he has not ruled out the option of asking the International Monetary Fund for a loan should the EU decide not to offer Greece support - although this is likely to hit the credibility of the euro currency.

Right-wing German MPs have told Bild magazine that Greece should be ready to sell off some of its 6,000 islands to finance its debt. 

"If the European Union, including Germany, helps Greece financially, it should provide guarantees in exchange," Marco Wanderwitz of the ruling CDU told the magazine. "A few islands should be good enough."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who opposed a bail-out for Greece before the austerity plan, is to meet Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday.



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