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Greek mayor (75) kicked and punched by 'far-right thugs' at WW1 event

“They were hitting me everywhere,” Boutaris told state agency ANA. “It was a despicable attack, but I am well.”

THE MAYOR OF Greece’s second city Thessaloniki was hospitalised early this morning after an assault by suspected far-right members at a rally, officials said.

Yiannis Boutaris, 75, had to be escorted from an event commemorating the massacre of Black Sea Greeks in Turkey during and after World War I when members of the crowd turned violent.

“They were hitting me everywhere. Kicks, punches, the lot,” Boutaris told state agency ANA today. “It was a despicable attack, but I am well.”

Footage from the event shows Boutaris initially being heckled. As he starts to leave, people start throwing objects at him and he falls to the ground.

Some of the attackers tried to break the windows of his car as it sped off.

The office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the attackers were “far-right thugs.”

Greek mayor Socialist-backed mayoral candidate Yiannis Boutaris speaking in Thessaloniki.

A maverick politician, Boutaris has repeatedly angered hardliners in Greece with controversial statements on Macedonia, Turkey and Israel.

Among them is calling Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state and a hate figure in Greece, a “great leader”.

How’s Greece’s economy doing?

Greece’s creditors have agreed a programme of reforms as the country’s third and final bailout comes to an end.

Athens was rescued three times by European and international creditors, preventing the country from crashing out of the Euro.

It returned to growth in 2017 after nine years of deep recession, and the bailout relief is due to end in August.

“After so many difficult years, efforts and sacrifices, Greece is finally on the home stretch,” European Union commissioner Pierre Moscovici said yesterday.

With a meeting of eurozone finance ministers set for 21 June, teams of experts from the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have met with the Greek government in recent days to discuss its privatisation drive, an overhaul of the civil service and the deregulation of the state-dominated energy market.

In a statement that gave no detail on the agreement, the EU’s executive said a staff-level accord had been reached.

“The Greek authorities aim to implement these measures as swiftly as possible in advance of the Eurogroup of 21 June 2018,” it added.

While Greece’s economy is now in better shape, successive bailouts have left it with debt levels at an unsustainable 180% of its annual economic output.

France has called for extending Greek loans by 12 years and capping interest at two percent, thereby reducing repayment by 18 billion euros.

But powerful Germany, Greece’s biggest creditor, is extremely reluctant to pare back the Greek debt pile and has demanded Athens meet strict targets even after the bailout ends in August.

© – AFP, 2018 

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