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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs