News / Europe

Greece Reacts to New Austerity Plans

Protesters shout slogans during a rally against the austerity economic measures and corruption, in front of the parliament in Athens' Syntagma [Constitution] in Greece, June 23, 2011
Protesters shout slogans during a rally against the austerity economic measures and corruption, in front of the parliament in Athens' Syntagma [Constitution] in Greece, June 23, 2011

Multimedia

Greek parliament has until the end of this month to decide on a fresh wave of austerity measures that are a precondition for international loans. Those loans are to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debts. Greek citizens already are feeling the pain, however, from a year of heavy spending cuts and tax increases.

The financial hardships are evident in the capital, Athens. The streets are littered with deserted storefronts, even in the wealthiest shopping districts. Homeless people sleep on pavements and one in six across the country are unemployed.

One of those is 29 year-old Areti. She was in a car crash two years ago that killed her fiancé and almost took her life. Since then she hasn’t been able to work.

“Having the car accident, losing your fiancé, losing your health, you need something to get out of the home and get out of the Internet, make new friends, have something to make your mind work again," said Areti. "If you don’t have a job, this is very difficult because your life is only the hospital, the sadness… it’s very difficult.”

She said many of her friends also are without work. She said all their energy and ideas for the future of Greece are wasted.

“It’s like you’re sleeping for a very big period and you are dreaming and every day you feel less strong and less happy.”

It’s a dream that Greece seems unlikely to wake up from anytime soon.

The country is in major debt and is relying on its partners in the European Union and on the International Monetary Fund to keep its economy afloat. An aid package worth over $100 billion is designed to keep Greek creditors at bay.

But that won’t solve Greece’s long-term problems, and despite the pain inflicted by tax hikes and spending cuts over the past year, they’ve failed to put a dent in the deficit.

Now, the EU and the IMF say before additional money is handed over, more cuts will have to be made. Lawmakers have until the end of the month to decide on around $40 billion worth of new spending cuts and economic reforms.

Many Greek citizens say austerity is bringing the country to its knees. Stefanos Manos is a Greek politician and a former government minister.

“When is it going to be over, no one has given an answer. And the government says this is it, many times," he said. "And every time they change their mind. That was not it, let’s have some more measures. So people are now very unsure of the future.”

But Manos said that despite the pain, more cuts are necessary. He said the Greek public sector is too large and inefficient, and in order for the country to get its economy in shape, public sector costs have to be downsized.

He said if that doesn’t happen, Greece may be forced to default on its debt and risk losing its place in the European Union.

“I hope it doesn’t happen. I think it would be a disaster for Greece," said Manos. "Therefore, I would go all out to cut the spending so that we are never forced to either default or be pushed out of the European Union.”

Manos isn’t the only one hoping to avoid that outcome. European politicians are struggling to find a way forward that will prevent the union from unraveling. But for now, Greek citizens are the ones taking the hit from their remedy.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid