Greece will end six years of recession by the end of 2014. That’s the message Antonis Samaras, the Greek Prime Minister gave at the annual trade fair in Thessaloniki. It was a speech brimming with economic confidence and optimism.
He told the audience: “Primary surplus means that the country can stand on it’s feet. It means that after the end of the year, we are going to achieve an easing of the burden, and our creditors have already committed to this. A primary surplus not only means that Greece is reaching her goals, but is surpassing them and it’s the first decisive step to coming out of the austerity measures policy.”
But out on the streets, his talk of a recovery and tackling the country’s deep-rooted tax evasion problems received a frostier reception. Four thousand police were deployed to deal with anti-austerity protestsors, angry about the the thousands of civil servants that could lose their jobs. There are also concerns about the potential closure of state-owned defence companies.
The Greek economy has shrunk by 23% since 2008 and is forecast to shrink by 4.2% this year, after contracting by 6.4% in 2012.