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Are troika members targets of threats in Greece?


Greek police officers in plain clothes escort International Monetary Fund mission chief Poul Thomsen, center, in Athens on Friday, Nov. 8. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

Just when you think things really can't get any worse in Greece, it does.

The International Monetary Fund and European Union representatives are currently in Athens for their fifth forensic look at  Greece's finances, the state's ability to make loan payments and how much more money they need. They've been met by tens of thousands of protesters, another general strike and apparently even terrorist threats.

Greece has been on a seemingly endless economic downward spiral for years. According to a recent Organization for Economic Co-operation report, the average income in Greece has fallen 23 per cent from 2007 to 2011 and only 34 per cent of Greeks are happy with their lives, says the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Beyond violent political protests, people have been killed.  Two months ago, left-wing rapper Pavlos Fissas was stabbed to death in Athens. A supporter of Golden Dawn - a right wing party accused of a series of attacks against migrants -  has been arrested in the murder but the party denies wrongdoing, reports the Associated Press.

And last week, two members of Golden Dawn were killed in a drive-by shooting. Golden Dawn is now the third biggest political party in Greece.

At an IMF press briefing on Thursday in Washington, reporters asked communications director Gerry Rice if troika members were concerned for their safety while in Athens.

The reporter asked: "On that, I understand your mandate is a focused one, but given the political violence that recently – with a terrorist or a hit against Golden Dawn in Greece -- some reports in the Greek press [say] that a Troika member may be targeted by a terrorist group -- are you concerned for the safety of your mission in Greece, and are you taking any measures to protect them over there?"

Rice replied it will be business as usual in Greece.

"The mission is proceeding as planned. We obviously watch all developments, but we're focused on the objective, as we have been all along. And that is to help support the Greek government, to help Greece get back on the path of growth and employment, and to, you know, help the people of Greece to emerge from this very difficult crisis and situation they've been facing for several years," he said.

Tanya Talaga is the Star's global economics reporter. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga




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