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Greece bans protests during Schaeuble visit

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July 17, 2013 01:20 PM EST | AP

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ATHENS, Greece — The Greek police has banned public protests in central Athens on Thursday, when German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will visit, a decision the left-wing opposition party described as "fascist and undemocratic."

A police statement Wednesday said a cordon would be set up around the city center in which "public gatherings and rallies" would be banned between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (0600-1700GMT).

The cordoned area includes parliament and the city's main Syntagma Square, focal points of scores of anti-austerity demonstrations.

"This action is fascist and undemocratic. It is inconceivable to have a demonstration and to exclude Syntagma Square. It is inconceivable for any European city," Panos Skourletis, a spokesman for the left-wing main opposition party, Syriza, told the AP.

"If we can't go there, where are we supposed to go? Varkiza?" he added, referring to a seaside resort near Athens.

Schaeuble's visit is his first since the Greek crisis broke out more than three years ago and it follows three days of massive protests against government plans for mass firings and transfers of public servants.

Greece's two largest unions said they had no plans to demonstrate Thursday, but Skourletis said members of his party would join protests if any take place.