Monday, March 4, 2013
Athens Travel Tips Spark Anger
Wall Street Journal
March 4, 2013
The leak of a European Commission email providing security tips for staffers visiting Athens highlights just how much of a threat some European officials see from angry citizens, especially in Greece.
Any journalist who’s covered riots in Athens knows they can get ugly. In recent years, three people have died during violent demonstrations and dozens have been injured. Even on calm days, citizens rage against the so-called “troika,” blaming the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund for their country’s seemingly bottomless recession. A 27% unemployment rate and a loss of 20% of economic output in six years can make tempers flare.
The leaked email, among other things, encourages staffers to invent a fake life story; warns them not to stand near windows during a protest so as not to provoke “an aggressive reaction” from demonstrators; admonishes officials to avoid bringing sensitive documents to bars or restaurants; and observes that “even the mildest reaction can be misinterpreted by protestors.”