21/02/12 19:07 CET
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Greeks have been digesting the multi-billion euro bailout deal that has won their country a reprieve from bankruptcy.
However it has set in stone austerity for the foreseeable future, and has massively dented national pride.
The agreement has been welcomed by politicians, including the man tipped to be the next prime minister, the conservative leader of the New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras.
“Today’s decision by the Eurogroup is significant and positive. It removes the danger of the country defaulting, it secures our European prospects, it gives the opportunity for the debt to become viable, and opens the road for elections,” he said.
Those elections in April are certain to bring more protests: Tuesday saw the turn of civil servants. The government will come under increased pressure on two fronts: from eurozone monitors there to ensure measures are enforced, and from many who are bitterly opposed to them.
“The new loan agreement and more significantly the new measures that accompany it, are catastrophic for Greek society and the prospects of the country. Not only will it drive people and society to poverty, but it will deepen the recession and the state’s problems,” said Ilias Vrettakos, vice-president of the Confederation of Civil Servants.
Unions have called for more protests on Wednesday. Civil servants have seen cuts to wages, pensions and benefits. Thousands have been and are due to be laid off.
Thousands of businesses have closed down since the crisis began.
“I’m not at all optimistic because I see that all these loans will go back into the pockets of those who made them. All those who gave us money will take it all back. Out of this 130 billion euros, Greece won’t keep even five. So what’s the gain?” asked Achilleas Adam, a 67-year-old pensioner.
The Greek cabinet was due to meet on Tuesday evening to consider how to implement the measures and reforms demanded by its creditors.
As for the people, many may agree with the words of 70-year-old Ioulia Ioannou, a retired nurse, who said: “we’re like drug addicts who’ve just been given their next dose”.
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