News / Europe

Rough Road Ahead for Greece Despite Austerity Measures

Riot police detain a demonstrator during a protest in Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) square, June 29, 2011.
Riot police detain a demonstrator during a protest in Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) square, June 29, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio

Greek politicians have voted in favor of $40 billion worth of austerity measures that were a precondition for Greece to receive international loans and stave off financial disaster. But as strikes take place across the nation and thousands gather in the capital Athens for a second day of protest.

Root problem

Democracy was born in Greece and many still consider it the cradle of Western civilization.  
But in 2011 the bedrock of democracy in Greece, its parliament, has been defended by armed police against battalions of citizens who say their voice has been forgotten.

The root of this crisis is money.

After years of borrowing, Greece is in debt. Faced with a massive deficit and under pressure from the international community, the government has revved up taxes and put the brakes on spending.

That's been bad news for most Greeks. Business profits are low and poverty rates are high.

Video footage of protests in Athens


Austerity, many in Greece say, is destroying lives.

Babis Papadimitriou, a journalist with the daily paper Kathimerini, says some Greeks conclude that the country would be better to default on its debt and leave the eurozone.

"The same people who think the austerity measures are too harsh and too difficult to implement, the same people think that if we go out of the eurozone, we will not need such austerity measures," Papadimitriou said.

Government protection

 

A policeman sprays tear gas as a protester walks away during an anti-austerity rally in Athens June 29, 2011.
A policeman sprays tear gas as a protester walks away during an anti-austerity rally in Athens June 29, 2011.

Many protestors say the rights and well-being of Greek citizens are not at the heart of government policy.

They say their government is making decisions that serve the interests of global economic powers and wealthy nations, while Greek people suffer the costs.

"This is a game of the global financial government. They want people to be down, not any resistance, absolutely nothing. So we have to fight for this," one protester said.

"I don't need them," added another protester. "I want to feel Greek again. But I'm not Greek. I'm German, I'm American. I don't know what I am."

Many though still believe that Greece is made stronger by its partners in the EU.

"I think the policies are a good step towards finding common ground with the European Union, which is I think a vision that all Greeks should aspire to," a bystander told reporters. "I don't think any country can operate in isolation these days, especially a country the size of Greece."

Hennessy video report


European 'dictatorship'

Speaking to VOA in London, analyst Vanessa Rossi says it's up to Greek politicians to avert the appearance of a "European dictatorship."

"Most of this problem actually pertains to the internal situation - that is the lack of engagement between the population and its own political class and the lack of engagement with solutions to go forward," Rossi explained.

Rossi says the fate of Greece and its place in the eurozone is in Greek hands, but its grip is weak.  She says politicians must balance the needs of its people with the demands of its global partners.

"I really don't think that there is a desire with the eurozone to see member states leave," Rossi added.  "But there are conditions under which it's quite difficult to offer further assistance. We have to look at both sides of that equation and we have to make a fair deal that's agreeable to all of them."

And with street battles raging in the Greek capital, without a compromise it's unclear if the government can maintain its authority.  If it fails to do so, Greece may be forced to bid farewell to its membership of the eurozone, whether it wants to or not.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid