Sunday 11 December 2016

Tens of thousands take to Athens streets in two separate referendum rallies

Published 03/07/2015 | 19:47

'Yes' supporters gather during a pro-Euro rally next to the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece
'Yes' supporters gather during a pro-Euro rally next to the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece
'Yes' supporters applaud during a pro-Euro rally in front of the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece
'Yes' supporters wave Greek flags during a pro-Euro rally at the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece
'Yes' supporters gather during a pro-Euro rally next to the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece
'Yes' supporters wave Greek flags during a pro-Euro rally next to the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece
Women sit in front of the National Bank building next to a poster that shows the word 'No' in Greek in Athens, Greece, July 3, 2015. An opinion poll on Greece's bailout referendum published on Friday pointed to a slight lead for the Yes vote, on 44.8 percent, against 43.4 percent for the No vote that the leftwing government backs. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A municipal worker assembles a voting booth at a voting center in Athens, on Friday, July 3, 2015. The brief but intense campaign in Greece's critical bailout referendum ends Friday, with simultaneous rallies in Athens for "Yes" and "No" supporters in what an opinion poll shows will be a very close race.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Pensioners line up outside a National Bank branch to receive part of their pensions in Iraklio on the island of Crete, Greece, July 3, 2015. Long lines of pensioners jostling to get into a limited number of banks opened specially to pay out retirement benefits have become a powerful symbol of the misery facing Greece and the problems mounting for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. REUTERS/Stefanos Rapanis
A pensioner is helped by a bank manager after collapsing while waiting along with dozens of other pensioners outside a National Bank in Athens, Greece, July 2, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
A supporter of the Greek Communist Party shelters from sun during a demonstration in Athens, Greece, July 3, 2015. An opinion poll on Greece's bailout referendum published on Friday pointed to a slight lead for the Yes vote, on 44.8 percent, against 43.4 percent for the No vote that the leftwing government backs. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A pensioner reacts as she obtains a priority ticket to get part of her pension outside a National Bank branch in Athens, Greece, July 1, 2015
Pro-EU protesters take part in a rally in front of the Greek parliament in Athens last week. Photo: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
Demonstrators burn a European Union flag during a rally supporting the no vote for the upcoming referendum outside European Union office in Athens, Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Pensioners line up as they wait to be allowed into a bank to withdraw a maximum of 120 euros ($134) for the week, Thursday, July 2, 2015. Greece braced for more chaos on the streets outside its mostly shuttered banks Thursday, as Athens and its creditors halted talks on resolving the country's deepening financial crisis until a referendum this weekend. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
A demonstrator gestures in front of a banner reading ''NO, not to fear'' during a rally by supporters of the no vote to the upcoming referendum in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Eurozone finance ministers decided Wednesday to break off talks on more aid for Greece until after it holds a weekend referendum, even as the Greek government pressed ahead with plans to let the people decide whether to accept more austerity measures in exchange for a rescue deal. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Demonstrators shout slogans during a rally by supporters of the 'No' vote to the upcoming referendum in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Eurozone finance ministers decided Wednesday to break off talks on more aid for Greece until after it holds a weekend referendum, even as the Greek government pressed ahead with plans to let the people decide whether to accept more austerity measures in exchange for a rescue deal. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Tourists visit the ancient Acropolis hill in Athens as Greek voters prepare to decide in a referendum on Sunday on whether their government should accept an economic reform package. Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
Demonstrators destroy a European flag during a rally by supporters of the no vote to the upcoming referendum in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Eurozone finance ministers decided Wednesday to break off talks on more aid for Greece until after it holds a weekend referendum, even as the Greek government pressed ahead with plans to let the people decide whether to accept more austerity measures in exchange for a rescue deal. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis
On the islands of Greece, aside from limited exports, tourism is their only source of income
An employee sews while working in a factory in the city of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria July 2, 2015. Greece is the third-largest investor in Bulgaria and is also Bulgaria's fourth-largest export destination. Picture taken on July 2, 2015. To match EUROZONE-GREECE/BULGARIA REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
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The word 'Yes' in Greek is seen on a sticker as pro-Euro demonstrators attend a rally in front of the parliament building, in Athens, Greece, June 30, 2015. Greece's conservative opposition warned on Tuesday that Sunday's vote over international bailout terms would be a referendum over the country's future in Europe, and that wages and pensions would be threatened if people were to reject the package
Demonstrators wave Greek flags during a rally at parliament organised by supporters of the Yes vote to the upcoming referendum (AP)
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) ahead of a meeting on Greece, at the European Commission in Brussels, on June 24, 2015, as eurozone finance ministers try to finalise a debt deal and avoid a default by Athens. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to conduct yet another round of crisis talks with representatives of the country's creditors, ahead of a crucial meeting of eurozone finance ministers where all sides hope a solution can be found to save the country from bankruptcy. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JULIEN WARNANDJULIEN WARNAND/AFP/Getty Images
Pro-Euro protesters attend a rally in front of the parliament building, in Athens, yesterday
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Cypriot supporters of Greece's radical left Syriza party take part in a demonstration in support of the Greek people on July 1, 2015 in the capital Nicosia. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed to go ahead with a controversial bailout referendum despite pressure from European leaders as they declined to consider any fresh debt offer before Sunday's vote. AFP PHOTO / IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROUIAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators shout slogans during a rally by supporters of the 'No' vote to the upcoming referendum in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Eurozone finance ministers decided Wednesday to break off talks on more aid for Greece until after it holds a weekend referendum, even as the Greek government pressed ahead with plans to let the people decide whether to accept more austerity measures in exchange for a rescue deal. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
A banner flies from a balcony of the Finance Ministry in Athens, Greece
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IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and Finance Minister Michael Noonan and French Finance Minister Michel Sapin at the meeting in Brussels
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (front) is welcomed by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker for a meeting ahead of a Eurozone emergency summit on Greece in Brussels, Belgium in this June 22, 2015 file photo

Tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens streaming towards two separate rallies which have divided the nation.

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In Syntagma Sq, before Parliament buildings the Syriza party held a party urging a No vote.

Read more: Greece Crisis: Country running out of food and medicine, banks down to last €500m  

Musicians entertained the massive crowds ended each performance with shouts of Oxi (No) which echoed around the historic square.

'Yes' supporters applaud during a pro-Euro rally in front of the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece
'Yes' supporters applaud during a pro-Euro rally in front of the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece

Just blocks away tens of thousands more had gathered at Kalimarmara, in front of the Olympic stadium one of the most significant Greek monuments associated with the Games.

There crowds gathered among a sea of blue. European flags mixed with thousands of European Union flags as the crowds danced to the musicianos.

At Syntagma the smattering of Greek flags mixed with those of Syriza.

Greeks made the most of the free transport around Athens to flock to the rallies. Trains running to Syntagma Sq were filled well beyond capacity with the station brought to a standstill as  No voters surged through chanting Oxi.

'Yes' supporters gather during a pro-Euro rally next to the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece
'Yes' supporters gather during a pro-Euro rally next to the Panathenean stadium in Athens, Greece

As both rallies continued a festival atmosphere remained around the city. But authorities feared the underlying tensions could spill over into violence with riot police stationed near the rallies.

At the Yes rally three former Prime Ministers joined the crowds much to the delight of those gathered. But it was the appearance of Tsipras at Syntagma Sq that received the biggest reaction.

Meanwhile the result of Sunday's referendum is too close to call, according to polls.

An IPSOS poll published this evening puts the Yes vote on 44pc, No on 43pc on undecided on 12pc.

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