For the third time in Athens, Greeks wanted to show their solidarity with the movement in France.
In front of the French embassy, dozens of activists held placards and loudspeakers. A stone’s throw from the Constitution Square, where the Greek Parliament is located, dozens of others donned a yellow vest to demonstrate in the capital.
For one protester, “the peoples of Europe must now follow the path of yellow jackets. We face common problems, austerity affects all of Europe”.
She welcomed the emergence of the movement in Belgium… and demonstrations on other social issues in Hungary and Albania. “Yellow vests show the way,” she said.
Economist Yannis Tolios added: “We are demonstrating against Macron’s policy in France.” According to him, “the yellow vests express the vital interests of the workers, in France but also in Greece. They fundamentally challenge the policies in the eurozone, by an oligarchy, which are actually the austerity policies”. That essentially means cuts in public spending, wages and pensions, accompanied by increases in taxes.
These policies were experienced in Greece between 2010 and 2015 when collective agreements were abolished and primacy was given to enterprise agreements which was concluded with “associations of persons” to the detriment of trade union representation.
At the same time, the economy plunged into an incessant recession with the gross domestic product falling by 25 percent.
“When I lived in France in 2010, and I explained to my friends that the laws passed in Greece would arrive in France, that we were only a guinea pig, they did not want to believe me …” , sighs Alkistis Prepi.
This 33-year-old urban planner is protesting in front of the French Embassy. “Everywhere, the popular classes are currently experiencing impoverishment; it produces the ‘forgotten’ ones and these movements, like the Indignados in Greece in 2011, give them back their voice. The laws that are passed in France are clearly in the context of the austerity that European leaders want to apply across Europe.
“With Macron, it’s Greek history … but accelerated. Accelerated … even in the repression seen,” she says.
A carpenter agrees with the young woman. “We are here in solidarity because we compare their situation with ours. In addition, we want to denounce the way the police reacted against the protesters. When we saw the armored vehicles of the army in Paris, students kneeling and arms on their heads in front of the police, we could not believe our eyes.”