ATHENS - About 8,000 demonstrators chanted anti-austerity slogans and hoisted banners warning Angela Merkel she was not welcome in Greece at a protest on Monday, the eve of a visit by the German chancellor.
Organized by labor unions fed up with wage and benefit cuts during three years of austerity, the demonstration was called before Merkel announced she was coming to Greece in a gesture of support for the government's fiscal reform efforts.But protesters did not miss the opportunity to vent their anger at Merkel, whose insistence on a tough reform program many Greeks blame for their country's plight. The main banner in front of parliament was a large German flag emblazoned with the words "Angela, you are not welcome!"
Greece is preparing extensive security measures for Tuesday's six-hour visit, Merkel's first to Greece since the debt crisis erupted there in 2009. Police have banned gatherings in most of central Athens and will deploy 6,000 police as well as anti-terrorist units and rooftop snipers.