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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid