Greeks Protest Ahead of Bailout Vote

Posted February 20th, 2012 at 12:20 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Greeks have protested in Athens against massive spending and salary cuts as European Union officials get ready to vote on a new bailout for the debt-crippled nation.

Sunday’s protests were generally peaceful. But a group of youths broke away from the main march and threw rocks and bottles at riot police, who responded with tear gas.

Finance ministers from countries that use the euro currency meet in Brussels Monday. They are expected to approve a new $171-billion bailout for Greece.

The Greek government fulfilled EU demands last week and approved a new round of spending cuts along with cuts in the minimum wage and the elimination of thousands of civil service jobs.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday that Greece has passed a very strong and difficult package of reforms that deserves the international community’s support.

He says the United States encourages the International Monetary Fund to support a new loan for Greece.

But millions of Greeks complain that they have already sacrificed enough. They say they do not know how they will cope when their salaries and benefits are slashed.

Greece faces bankruptcy if it cannot pay investors $19 billion in debt when government bonds come due next month. The government is negotiating a bond swap with the creditors that would save the country billions of dollars.