Greek protesters chanting "Stand united to kick out the Nazis," attacked members of the German delegation attending a conference on Greek-German trade initiatives in Thessaloniki.
Protesters in Greece's second largest city were demonstrating against civil service layoffs as demanded by Greece's Troika of international lenders, when they stormed the meeting which hosted the Germans. The Local reported German Consul Wolfgang Hoelscher-Obermaier, who was speaking at the conference, had coffee hurled over him. Other members of the German delegation were pelted with eggs by some of the 300-strong protesters.
On Wednesday Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Angela Merkel's special envoy to Greece, angered municipal workers in Thessaloniki when he told reporters "it takes 3,000 Greek municipal workers to do the work of 1,000 of their German counterparts." He insisted cuts must be made to the number of municipal workers.
Union leader Themis Balasopoulos said protesters had gathered "to express our deep anger at his absurd comments" Euronews reported.
Fuchtel later said that his remarks had been misinterpreted, saying "It was a misunderstanding that was resolved. I feel more pro-Greek than ever."
Yiannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki, has refused to send a list of municipality workers targeted for redundancy, to Athens. Der Spiegel reported Boutaris said "Both the government and the troika need to realize that such measures decapitate an already castrated local administration."
However, deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki, Nikolaos Tachiaos, disagreed with the Mayor, saying "Municipalities would hire literally everybody who came knocking" referring to low skilled workers who obtained jobs through rampant cronyism.
Under the new austerity measures 27,000 Greek civil servants are to be placed in a work reserve scheme over the next year on 75 percent of their wages. At the end of that time if their labour is not required they will be made redundant.