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Greeks attack German official

November 15, 2012

A German official attending a meeting was attacked by protesters in northern Greece on Thursday. Riot police on the scene intervened, but did not arrest the assailants.

Municipal workers clash with riot police during a demonstration against the presence of German Deputy Labor minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel in Thessaloniki on 15 November, 2012. Protesters reportedly attempted to break into the conference center that would host a meeting between Greek and German mayors. The protest came after Fuchtel, who is also German Chancellor Angela Merkel's special envoy to Greece, told journalists in the northern port city that it takes 3,000 Greek municipal workers to do the work of 1,000 of their German counterparts. AFP PHOTO /Sakis Mitrolidis (Photo credit should read SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Griechenland Deutschland Thessaloniki Demonstranten vor dem deutschen KonsulatImage: SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images

Municipal workers staging a protest against austerity cuts on Thursday in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki have confronted a German diplomat before he was able to enter a building where a Greek-German relations conference was to take place .

The protesters reportedly pushed German Consul Wolfgang Hoelscher-Obermaier, then tried to douse him with coffee and water. Policemen attempted to shield Hoelscher-Obermaier, according to the news agency Reuters.

Several demonstrators then entered the conference center by force, leading to a clash with riot police. Initial reports did not indicate that any injuries or arrests had occurred during the violence.

The municipal workers chose the site for the demonstration after learning that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's special envoy to Greece, Hans Joachim Fuchtel, had planned to attend.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the attack.

"Violence is not the way to settle differences," she said after a meeting with the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Berlin on Thursday.

According to dpa news agency, Fuchtel, who is also the German Deputy Labor Minister, told reporters that Greek cities should try to reduce the number of local government employees. He reportedly said that it took three times as many Greek municipal employees to do the same amount of work as their German counterparts.

Anti-German sentiment

Thursday's attack follows a day of protests across countries hit hardest by the economic crisis. Recurring protests across southern Europe have often led to clashes with the police.

Spat over Greek debt timetable

The violent confrontation involving the German official in Thessaloniki reflects the ever-growing animosity in Greece toward the German government, which many protesters in the Mediterranean country have blamed for the harsh austerity measures.

In October, tens of thousands took to the streets of Athens to protest against German Chancellor Angela Merkel's trip to meet with the Greek government, brandishing signs depicting Merkel as Adolf Hitler.

Greece, where unemployment reached 25 percent this year, is facing a likely sixth year of economic recession.

kms, hc/tj (AP, AFP)