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Greeks protest austerity, support euro on eve of eurozone bailout meetings

(Xinhua)

09:28, February 20, 2012

ATHENS, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Greek citizens took to the streets of Athens once again throughout Sunday, protesting painful austerity on the eve of a crucial eurozone meeting in Brussels that could determine Greece's salvation from financial meltdown in March and its future in the common currency zone.

Demonstrators waving banners in front of the parliament building "against EU and International Monetary Fund", denounced the tough terms of the second international bailout package to stave off a Greek default, ahead of a new eurozone meeting on Monday that could unlock the vital aid.

But at the same time in a vast majority, disgruntled Greeks strongly supported the country's membership in the eurozone, according to a series of opinion polls published in newspapers, acknowledging that outside euro the country would certainly face a devastating bankruptcy, as local analysts noted.

Seven out of 10 respondents in the survey printed in Sunday's Realnews newspaper said they want Greece to stay within the eurozone. Less than half of respondents though believed that Greece will still be a member of the zone by 2015.

Some 95 percent of Greeks polled expressed deep pessimism for the country's future, criticizing the two-year austerity and reform drive underway as a wrong recipe to tackle the debt crisis.

"The mix of policies chosen so far lead Greek society and the country deeper into recession and a vicious circle. We will keep fighting until we overturn them," Stathis Anestis, General Secretary of the umbrella labour union of private sector employees GSEE, said on Sunday noon, addressing a rally in central Athens organized in collaboration with the umbrella union of civil servants ADEDY.

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