| ATHENS, March 25
ATHENS, March 25 Greek police fired tear gas on
Sunday to disperse anti-austerity protesters at national day
parades to mark Greece's independence from Ottoman rule in three
The annual military parade to commemorate Greece's uprising
in 1821 was held under unprecedented security measures in
Athens, preventing a repeat of minor clashes and heckling at
previous celebrations, when protesters called President Karolos
Papoulias a traitor.
The protests reflect public anger at the stifling austerity
measures imposed by the government to secure the funding it
needs from its international lenders stay afloat.
The measures, which include steep cuts to pay and pensions,
have helped push Greece's economy into its worst recession in
four decades, driving unemployment to a record 21 percent.
In Athens, streets were cordoned off and about 4,000 police
officers were deployed to the city centre, including snipers on
the roof of parliament and other buildings on the main Syntagma
square, the scene of violent anti-austerity protests last year.
The parade in the capital was concluded peacefully but tight
security meant very few people besides officials and dignitaries
were able to get close enough to watch it.
"Today Greek people are fighting a tough battle. After
achieving the impossible back then, we will also succeed this
time," President Karolos Papoulias told reporters after the
parade in Athens.
Greece, which faces elections in late April or early May
amid a deep economic malaise, needs to stick to difficult
economic reforms prescribed by its lenders - the European Union
and the International Monetary Fund - to continue receiving aid
under a second bailout deal.
In the western port city of Patras a group of about 50
protesters pelted police with bottles and stones after they were
blocked from getting close the stand of dignitaries watching a
Police also fired tear gas at about 200 protesters who tried
to disrupt student parades in the cities of Heraklion and Chania
on the island of Crete. Police said 39 people were detained
across the country.