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* Greek war photojournalist: no need to seek conflict abroad
* Exhibits in festival in Berlin
By Gareth Jones
BERLIN, June 22 Photo-journalist Nikos Pilos
used to travel the world to cover conflicts, now he only needs
to open his front door in Athens.
Pilos's work, on display this week at Berlin's Browse
Fotofestival, chronicles the violence, anger and despair
engulfing Greece as it tries to stave off economic collapse.
"It is ironic. Before the crisis, I used to spend eight
months of the year travelling to places like Iraq, Lebanon and
Pakistan. Now I don't need to leave Athens," Pilos said.
"War has come to Greece," said Pilos, a prize-winning
journalist whose work has appeared in a wide range of
Many of the black-and-white photographs on display are taken
on Syntagma Square, before the parliament building in central
Athens, scene of countless battles over the past few years
between helmeted riot police and anti-austerity protesters.
In one, a large Christmas tree on Syntagma Square is ablaze,
in another a hooded youth points a water pistol at police
clutching riot shields. In a third, a man wearing a gas mask
holds a Greek flag aloft through swirling mists of tear gas.
"I will stay in Greece while the crisis continues.
Unfortunately, I expect to have lots of work at home for quite a
long time to come," said Pilos, adding that he had been
physically assaulted three times in Greece while doing his job.
"I have been to so many war zones but the only time I have
ever been beaten was in Greece, once by anarchists and twice by
the police. I spent 100 days in Iraq (in 2004-05) and have
worked in Lebanon and in Yugoslavia in the 1990s and always came
through without a scratch," he said.
The Browse Fotofestival, in which some 30 photographers from
around the world are taking part, has come in a week that began
with an election in Greece and is set to end with a symbolically
important soccer match between Greece and Germany in the Euro
2012 tournament in Poland.
'WE DON'T HATE GERMANS'
Germany has insisted that Greece under its new
conservative-led government stick to the tough austerity
measures that many Greeks blame for the collapse of their
economy and which have triggered the protests that Pilos has
Pilos, who does not expect Antonis Samaras's new government
to overcome the crisis, said German visitors to the Browse
exhibition asked him whether Greeks hated Germans.
"I tell them we have no problems with the German people,
they are welcome to visit Greece, there is no danger," he said.
"Some Germans are afraid because of the provocative articles
in the media."
In typically mischievous mood, Germany's top-selling German
tabloid Bild - a long-time critic of EU bailout packages for
Greece that have cost German taxpayers dear - emblazoned
Friday's front page ahead of the soccer showdown with the
message "Bye-bye Greeks, today we cannot rescue you!"
Asked about the match on Friday evening in the Polish city
of Gdansk, Pilos shrugged: "It's just a game."
But noting that German Chancellor Angela Merkel - a hate
figure in Greece - would fly to Gdansk, Pilos added: "She
probably expects Germany to win and to celebrate yet another
victory over Greece."
(Reporting by Gareth Jones)