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More grief for Greece -

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More grief for Greece

The World Today - Wednesday, 10 December , 2008 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: And for a fourth night there have been violent clashes between protesters and police
across Greece, with no sign that the tensions are easing.

The opposition socialist party says the Government has lost control of the situation and is calling
for the Government to resign immediately.

And now a 24-hour general strike over welfare reform is about to stop services and ground all
flights in and out of the country.

Europe correspondent, Emma Alberici, reports.

(Sound of banging and alarms)

EMMA ALBERICI: Greece hasn't seen anything like this since the uprising at the Athens Polytechnic
in 1973, those riots led to the collapse of seven years of military rule.

In much the same way these latest clashes are between those in power and those civilians feeling
powerless. The catalyst this time was the police shooting of 15-year-old, Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

It ignited a general discontent within the community over the Government's handling of the economic
crisis and long-held suspicions that its ranks are plagued by corruption. Scandals involving sex,
money and the church have circled the conservatives for some time.

The latest flashpoint in the conflict overnight came moments after the teenager whose death sparked
the riots was buried; 6,000 mostly young mourners attended the funeral.

YOUNG GREEK MALE (translated): If we do nothing, someone else will be killed. We need to do
something, there needs to be change. We have to unite.

YOUNG GREEK MALE 2 (translated): It wasn't his fault, he was celebrating St. Nicholas Day with his
friends, he had nothing to do with any trouble. Even if he had, it should have never gone that far.

EMMA ALBERICI: And it's young people who are most deeply enraged by Greek politics. They study
abroad but find that even with prestigious university degrees they still have no prospects in their
home country.

Vagia Zeppatou lives in the southern port city of Patras, where thousands of protesters have
attacked police headquarters. She describes the scenes around her home.

VAGIA ZEPPATOU: The banks and supermarkets, the shops, the cars have broken, people with wooden
sticks, stones and petrol bombs are trying to destroy everything in capitalism.

EMMA ALBERICI: In emergency talks overnight, the Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, whose
government holds a one seat majority in the Parliament, failed to reach a consensus with his
opposition about the best way to handle the precarious situation that's left the capital looking
like a war zone.

He emerged from the meetings keen to assert his authority over allegations that the crisis was out
of control.

KOSTAS KARAMANLIS (translated): I assure the president that no leniency will be tolerated in
holding people accountable. No one has the right to use this tragic incident as an alibi for
actions of raw violence.

EMMA ALBERICI: There is no sign that tensions across the country are easing and rather fears that
it's about to escalate as students, trade unionists and other special interest groups prepare to
take to the streets in their thousands during the 24-hour strike which had been planned ahead of
this week's violence.

All flights in and out of Greece have been cancelled due to the mayhem gripping the country from
Thessaloniki in the north to Patras in the south.

This is Emma Alberici for The World Today.