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Clashes erupt at Greek anti-EU protests in Athens

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Police and protesters clash in the Greece capital Athens during a demonstration against European Union after the country officially launched its six-month presidency of the bloc.

On Wednesday, the protesters clashed with riot police as they were denied to march to the Parliament.

The protesters burned the European Union flag to show anger against the bloc, which they blame for the tough austerity measures imposed on the country.

Athens assumed the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union on Wednesday.

“Greece, with great sacrifices, leaves the crisis behind it,” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said during joint statements with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, shortly before an official opening ceremony.

Hours before assuming the presidency, Greek authorities imposed a ban on protest rallies throughout central Athens.

Greece has so far received two aid packages worth 240 billion euros ($322 billion). The country is implementing the new austerity measures to qualify for the next bailout installment of one-billion-euro ($1.4 billion).

Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its sixth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left tens of thousands of people without jobs.

One in every four Greek workers is currently unemployed, banks are in a shaky position, and pensions and salaries have been slashed by about 40 percent.

Greek youths have also been badly affected, and more than half of them are unemployed.

The long-drawn-out eurozone debt crisis, which began in Greece in late 2009 and reached Italy, Spain, and France in 2011, is viewed as a threat not only to Europe but also to many of the world’s other developed economies.


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