5th Jul 2022

Protesters back Greek side at euro talks in Brussels

  • Protesters showed solidarity with Greece (Photo: Peter Teffer)

While politicians were discussing the Greek bailout in Brussels Wednesday (11 February) evening, a few hundred people staged a protest to show solidarity with the new Greek government, which wants to renegotiate its debt programme.

The protesters held their demonstration at Schuman square, in the middle of a roundabout full of traffic entering or exiting the EU neighbourhood of Brussels.

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  • Since the square is surrounded by bushes, many may have passed the protest without noticing it. (Photo: Peter Teffer)

The protest was timed to start at 17:30, the same time the so-called eurogroup of finance ministers began its meeting to discuss the situation in Greece.

For the first half hour of the event, the square looked more like a gathering of old friends than of protesters. People were chatting, young boys used the pole-end of flags to make drawings in the square's gravel, and no chants could be heard.

Since the square is surrounded by bushes, many of the euro-commuters may have passed without even noticing.

But shortly after six, the protesters started to make noise.

“Resistance international, contre l'Europe du capital! [International resistance against capitalist Europe]".

“So, so, so, solidarite!”.

One protester urged the crowd to “make some noise for the Greek people!”.

The new Greek government is showing that "another kind of Europe" is possible, said Emilie Paumard, who is from the French-speaking Belgian city of Liege. “A lot of people are really happy to see this situation.”

“We have to go in the street to support this government”, she said, adding that she hoped solidarity with the Greek population will increase in Europe.

Several Brussels-based Greeks were also present.

Diamantis Vagis was wearing a Greek flag – it was the first time he was using it for something other than a football match. He said he came to the protest to support the new far-left government of prime minister Alexis Tsipras.

“I came to support the people who give me hope, and to give him courage. Because he [Tsipras] must have courage to go against Merkel”, said Vagis.

The 45-year old came to Brussels when he was 42, because “thanks to Samaras” he was unable to find a job in Greece. Antonis Samaras was the centre-right prime minister of Greece since 2012 until he was succeeded by Tsipras two weeks ago.

Dionisios Papadopoulos said he also works in Brussels - “with European institutions” - and stressed that Greeks did not want their country to exit the euro.

“The European project is supported by the vast majority of the Greek people. They expect more solidarity from Europe”, he noted.

“Austerity is not the only way to move ahead the European project”.

The protesters carried several flags, most of them red, the colour of socialism. Many of the flags wore the logo of the Belgian far left socialist party PVDA.

“I think it inspires a lot of people”, protester Dirk de Block said of the Greek election victory of far left party Syriza. De Block is a local politician in Brussels for PVDA.

“I have a friend who is Greek. When you hear him speak about the situation in Greece, it's really bad. It's a third world country in Europe”, said De Block.

“The policies of the previous governments have had dramatic consequences for the Greek population. Poverty, cancelled pensions, people who barely survive, soaring suicide figures.”

“I think it's hopeful that a country dares to question the policies that have been carried out for years.”

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