February 19, 2012
Riot police shielded Greece’s national parliament Sunday as demonstrators gathered to protest against austerity measures on the eve of talks in Brussels on a 130-billion-euro ($171 billion) bailout needed to avert bankruptcy.
Hopes for a deal at the meeting of euro zone finance ministers have risen after Athens last week detailed new budget cuts. But skeptics, led by Germany, are wary about Greece’s determination to shrink its debt mountain.
Only a few hundred protesters had assembled outside the national parliament by early afternoon but authorities are on guard after demonstrations last Sunday degenerated into looting and torching of buildings in central Athens.
“Maybe some people are scared after last week’s rioting,” said retired state electricity worker Costas Xenakis.