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Greece's dilemma: austerity or default

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Greece's dilemma: austerity or default


The financial crisis in Greece means hardship for many. Dimitris is one of its victims. A former marketing manager for Italian carmaker Alfa Romeo, he lost his job two years ago. New car sales nose dived when Greece first went into economic meltdown. Now Dimitris is struggling to pay the bills. The splendours of his country mean little to him anymore. What matters is finding work. At only fifty years of age, however, he fears that might never happen again.

“The hardest feeling is, first of all, that I’m old. Unfortunately, if they see just a number which is 16.12.1961, they say, ‘‘oh, that’s an old guy, we don’t want him anymore.’‘ If you feel, that you are not wanted, that is a suffering situation!” Dimitris Filippas said.

The number of people visiting psychiatrists in Greece has rocketed by almost 30 percent. EU figures show the country has suffered the biggest loss to real incomes out of all EU states. With few prospects, many Greeks are looking abroad to find work.

“I don’t know what will happen in the future, for me and my life, for my dreams, my family, I don’t know,” one young woman in Athens said.

Greece has been told it must implement even more rigour before it can hope to get a life-saving loan. But critics say that will kill an economy, already in intensive care. Professor George Katrougalos now thinks it is time for Greece to default.

“It is going to be a period even harder than today. But I think that is a better solution. because that is going to be a way out from the present situation. Because now the debt is so big, that it is not viable.”

However painful, ruling socialist MP Elene Panartis defends the government’s stance. She insists default would be a disaster, especially for the poor.

“The option is we just run out of money, completely. And at this point we will not be able to pay salaries. We will not be able to have utilities.”

The choices facing debt riddled Greece are stark. Either another large dose of severe fiscal medicine or default, and all the suffering both these would bring.

Speaking from Athens euronews’ Olaf Brunes said: “One Athenian described the state of mind of his compatriots as a kind of ‘collective depression’. Others prefer to say they feel angry and are promising that soon there will be even bigger protests when parliament votes on the latest planned austerity measures.’‘

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