Protesting Banned In Athens During Visit By German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Who Urged Greece To Stop Lobbying For More Debt Restructuring

 @angeloyoung_a.young@ibtimes.com on July 18 2013 7:53 AM
  • Greece 18July2013
    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (R) meets Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens July 18, 2013. Greek police have banned protests and traffic in downtown Athens on Thursday during a visit by Schaeuble, whom many accuse of forcing painful cuts on Greece in return for the multibillion euro bailouts keeping it afloat. Reuters
  • Greek protests June 2013
    Protesters, including public school teachers and municipal police officers, held demonstrations Wednesday night as Greece's shaky coalition government scraped through a vote on a bill to sack public sector workers. Reuters
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The Greek capital was in lockdown mode on Thursday in preparation for a visit by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a day after the country’s parliament barely passed a controversial bill that will see thousands of public sector employees laid off by the end of the year.

Gatherings of more than three sign-waving people were banned and train stations were shuttered in Athens for most of Thursday, according to the BBC.

With thousands of police officers securing the streets of Athens, Schaeuble urged the country not to seek another debt write-down during an event at the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce.

"My advice is not to continue this discussion [about further debt restructuring]," Schaeuble said at a Greek-German Chamber of Commerce event, according to Reuters. "We have to stick to what we've achieved. Anything else is not in the best interest of Greece."

The bill is part of measures necessary for Greece to receive 6.8 billion euros ($8.9 billion) of aid needed to keep the government functioning. The country has already received 240 billion euros in two bailout packages but will need more.

Schaeuble was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in his first visit to the country since the Greek economic meltdown in 2009. Germany is a strong proponent for steep austerity measures and many in Greece blame it for their job losses that have sent the country’s unemployment rate to alarming highs.

To receive the additional funds from the troika of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Athens has agreed to lay off 4,000 state employees and to slash wages by a fourth for 25,000 public sector workers for eight months, after which many could lose their jobs, too.  

The austerity measures passed parliament by a slim 153-140 majority as thousands of protestors – including school janitors and local police officers facing job losses -- gathered outside the building. Samaras insists the austerity measures will work in the long run, but Greece is still facing an unsustainable debt load. 

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