Dozens of anti-austerity protesters broke into a conference center in northern Greece and clashed with police today to demonstrate against the presence of a German government official. The protesting municipal workers pushed and threw coffee on a German consul in Thessaloniki, Wolfgang Hoelsche-Obermaier, who arrived to attend a conference of Greek and German mayors being held in the city. They later forced open shutters and entered the conference center, where they clashed with riot police, who chased protesters through the conference center complex from building to building in a chaotic scene.
A German deputy labor minister who has been appointed special envoy to Greece, Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, was also attending the event. "These people haven't come here to help us, but to announce our death sentence," said the leader of Greece's municipal workers union, who was at the demonstration. The protesters chanted "Nazis out" and "This will not pass" as they tried to obstruct municipal officials from attending the conference; they also played Nazi anthems over loud speakers. Germany is the biggest contributor to Greece's rescue loans and has been one of the most vocal advocates of the tough austerity measures demanded of Athens. As a result, protesters in Greece often target Germany in their demonstrations.