Greece boosts security for PM Samaras Thessaloniki speech

Protesters in Thessaloniki (6 September 2013)
Image caption Coastguards joined a protest in Thessaloniki on Friday against austerity measures

Four thousand police have been deployed ahead of union protests in Thessaloniki where the Greek prime minister will give his annual speech on the economy.

Antonis Samaras is expected to back a continued austerity programme in his address at a trade fair in the city.

The unions are planning demonstrations against a government campaign of mass firings of civil servants.

Greece's economy has shrunk 23% since 2008. So far it has received two bailouts of about 240bn euros (£205bn).

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has said his country may need an additional 10bn rescue package, but he has rejected calls for an easing of austerity measures.

He also warned that Greece would not accept any new spending cuts imposed by the lending troika - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

As part of current bailout conditions, the government has been forced to impose drastic cuts, tax rises, and labour market and pension reforms.

'Stick to tough path'

Mr Samaras is likely to call for Greece to stick to its tough path, while vaunting progress in reducing the deficit, the BBC's Mark Lowen reports from Athens.

Latest figures on Friday said improved tourism revenues between April and June had meant Greece's recession-hit economy had shrunk by less than expected.

The prime minister is also expected to address a call by Greece's creditors to close state-owned defence companies - a move the government has been resisting so far.

While the conservative prime minister believes Greece has come two-thirds of the way through its crippling crisis, many ordinary citizens do not see the glimmer of hope, our correspondent says.

The international trade fair in Thessaloniki is an annual event, which has typically attracted protests against austerity measures, he adds.

Greece's economy has shrunk further than any other in Europe. International creditors are expected to review the country's aid programme in the autumn.