ATHENS Nov 15 Greek workers stormed a meeting
of Greek and German officials in the northern city of
Thessaloniki on Thursday and tried to attack a German diplomat
in a protest over austerity measures.
Police used truncheons and teargas to disperse around 250
city employees after several burst into the building and ran
swearing through its halls. Police said the protesters wanted to
stop the meeting aimed at smoothing ties between Berlin and
Riot police formed a shield around German Consul Wolfgang
Hoelscher-Obermaier and fought off protesters who tried to
attack him as he entered the building. Some demonstrators tried
to pelt him with water bottles.
More than 200 more thronged outside the building chanted
"It's now or never!" and held up mock gravestones and banners
proclaiming "Fight until the end!"
In Greece, many people worn down by years of austerity blame
German Chancellor Angela Merkel for forcing the painful cuts in
exchange for the two international bailout packages.
In Germany, media have long characterised the Mediterranean
state's 11 million people as lazy, corrupt and ungrateful.
Tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police when
Merkel visited Athens in October and some burned Nazi flags.
Greeks have stepped up protests in recent weeks against the
austerity measures that Athens has promised its lenders, the
European Union and the International Monetary Fund, in return
for the aid keeping it afloat.
The German embassy was not immediately reachable for
comment. An employee at the Thessaloniki city hall said no one
was able to respond to a request for comment.
"No one can talk to you now. They have occupied the
building," a woman who answered the building's switchboard said.