With German Chancellor Angela Merkel due to arrive in Athens at 1:30 Tuesday, the Greek capital is on a high security alert. In addition to the deployment of 7,000 riot police, helicopters and snipers, gatherings and protests have been banned.
Since Merkel's surprise visit to Greece was announced, Greek authorities have gone into overdrive preparing elaborate security measures. Between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. protest rallies and large gatherings have been banned in the government district of Athens.
Riot police will be on high alert in the city, armed with tear gas and water cannons. Parts of the city have been cordoned off “in the interests of public safety and the city’s socioeconomic life" Ekathimerini reports.
Unions ADEDY (the Civil Servants' Confederation) and GSEE (the General Confederation of Greek Workers) said they will go ahead with planned protests, while the Independent Greeks are planning a protest rally outside the German Embassy at 6 p.m.
Public transport will be disrupted and cars will be banned from the city center.
Merkel will be met at the airport by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and she is also due to meet with President Karolos Papoulias. The government has not announced how much the visit will cost the Greek state.
"She does not come to support Greece, which her policies have brought to the brink," Alexis Tsipras, leader of the extreme-left SYRIZA told Der Spiegel. "She comes to save the corrupt, disgraced and servile political system. We will give her the welcome she deserves."
German newspaper Bild opined "that rather than hurling abuse at Merkel in the streets of Athens, Greeks should be waving German flags in gratitude for the financial assistance German taxpayers have given Greece."
However, Merkel remains a highly unpopular figure in Greece, often portrayed in the Greek press wearing a Nazi uniform. Her recent conciliatory tone has won her few friends.