Thousands of Greek people have held a demonstration outside the parliament in the capital, Athens, to voice support for efforts by the new anti-austerity government.
Chanting slogans in support of the administration of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the demonstrators rallied peacefully at Athens’ central Syntagma Square on Thursday.
A demonstrator said that demonstrators “support the government, which is fighting with dignity and strength for the rights and the interests of the Greek people and the youth to confront the humanitarian catastrophe that [has been caused by] the policies of the European Union and the government of [former Prime Minister Antonis] Samaras and [former Foreign Minister Evangelos] Venizelos.”
They also deplored a decision by the European Central Bank (ECB) to cut off a vital source of funds for Greek banks.
Thousands of people also rallied in other Greek cities in support of the Greek government, following the decision of the European Central Bank on Thursday to stop accepting Greek government bonds as collateral. Similar rallies were also held in the northern city of Thessaloniki, in front of the White Tower and in Heraklion and Chania in Crete.
The Wednesday move by the ECB caused shares on the volatile Athens stock exchange to dive nearly 10 percent on opening.
Athens says the move is aimed at putting pressure on the newly-elected anti-austerity government to swiftly conclude a compromise debt deal ahead of a Eurogroup meeting next week.
The government played down the impact of the decision on Greece’s banking system, insisting it would stick to its anti-austerity agenda.
Greece, however, says it is upbeat about a possible solution to the stand-off with the EU over his country’s massive debt.
Tsipras also talked with ECB chief Mario Draghi late Wednesday, government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said.
“We are prepared to talk to all our creditors. [We want] all sides to understand that Greece is being subjected to an irrational policy,” said the spokesman, insisting that Athens was interested in finding a solution “without a gun to our head.”
The Greek premier and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis have been holding many meetings with EU leaders and ECB authorities this week, hoping to gain support for the Greek case.
Athens has imposed harsh austerity measures that have caused mounting dissatisfaction in the country.
The measures have forced people to endure multiple tax increases, along with cuts in pension and salary, in exchange for the bailout loans by the so-called troika of lenders — the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the ECB.