Greeks have taken to the streets in yet another mass anti-austerity demonstration despite the government’s talk of improvement in the recession-hit economy.
Thousands of people, including union workers, rallied in the country’s second largest city of Thessaloniki on Saturday to protest against cutbacks and layoff of public workers.
Leader of Greece’s major opposition party, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, also attended the demonstration.
Meanwhile, small groups of protesters threw tomatoes and briefly scuffled with riot police.
The protest came shortly after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras delivered a key speech on economic policy, expressing confidence that the ailing economy was on its way to recovery.
“Greece is turning the page on six years of recession and the economy is becoming competitive,” Samaras said during a speech at the opening of the 78th International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki.
He said international organizations are predicting the start of an economic recovery for Greece and an end to the introduction of new austerity measures in the coming year in 2014.
Samaras added that Greece would for the first time in years, record a budget surplus in 2013, leaving out debt repayments.
But demonstrators said they did not share the government’s optimism.
Greece was severely hit by recession in 2008 due to fiscal mismanagement resulting in tax rises and spending cuts.
The country has witnessed three years of austerity policies imposed the government in a bid to win bailout loans from international creditors, including the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.
Workers unions say they fear a new wave of harsh measures after the next assessment of the country’s stability and growth by its international creditors.
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