Retired officers break into defence ministry forecourt to protest pension cuts

There was tension and some scuffles at the defence ministry on Friday when a group of some 100 or more retired military officers managed to break into the forecourt of the ministry without permission, protesting against cuts in their pensions. The protestors, who had initially gathered outside the ministry gates, refused to leave unless National Defence Minister Panos Beglitis returned from Parliament so they could hand over a resolution containing their demands.

Speaking in Parliament, Beglitis issued a stern warning that unless the retired officers withdrew immediately he would give orders to have them removed by force.

Beglitis referred to the incident as "unfortunate" and said he had been informed by Deputy Defence Minister Costas Spiliopoulos that a "group of 100 retired officers were proceeding to behave wretchedly". He accused them of acting in ways that were undemocratic and said this sort of behaviour that was insulting and went counter to the democratic government would be immediately quashed.

He urged all the political parties to condemn the actions of the retired officers and asked main opposition New Democracy, especially, to use its influence to persuade them to depart.

On their part, the opposition parties generally declared their opposition to ruffianism in principle but criticised the minister's response and especially his threat to use force.

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