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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid