The Greeks are taking their euro crisis in a mixture of ways. (They invented the word ‘crisis’ of course, originally meaning ‘decision’.) Some are blaming the crisis on global recession and speculators. Others are noting with dignity the made-in-Greece part of the picture — and opinion in a central market in Athens is: the picture is dark.
“The euro is a catastrophe for us all,” was one shopper’s feeling.
With VAT on their basic purchases set to be increased, already budget-conscious households are anxious about how far the average 800 euro-per-month salary will stretch.
Putting a decade’s cost-of-living increase in perspective, we heard from a man with the Varvakios Market Association: “Before the euro, parsley cost 30 drachma [roughly ten cents]. Now it’s 40 eurocents.”
A basic pension here is 280 euros. A fifth of Greeks are already living below the official poverty line. Yet Greeks who are better-off are anxious too, while remaining realistic about the need for the government to change economic structures, meaning, basically, where the money comes from and how it moves around.
“I do understand the reaction of the majority of Greek people, but at the same time, I think that Greek people understand that a structural reform was necessary at this moment because without reform, in a few years, Greece would have been in a worse situation,” said a publisher.
His wife added: “For example, we were going outside two times a week because we have small children. Now I am sure that we will do it once a week. Or, a second example: we’ve had a car for nine years. We wanted to change our car [but] in this moment, we won’t. We will stay with this one, and everybody will have to change their way of living.”