On the frontline of Greece’s debt disaster, pensioners and other ordinary citizens continued to queue on Friday at closed banks where cash withdrawals remain strictly rationed.
The government ordered the banks to close their doors on Monday, June 29, after the collapse of negotiations on an international aid deal.
Such scenes should end if Athens obtains a new aid package. But the far-reaching reform proposals required by creditors mean hardship looks set to continue for the Greek people.
Reports suggest that, amid heightened financial anxiety, many Greeks have cancelled any travel plans this summer.
Unemployed travel agent Natasha, 53, insisted that the issue was not whether the public would accept the new bailout.
“The issue is if these measures are feasible. When we have 30 percent unemployment, there is no point in saying anything else,” she said, speaking in the capital.
“We Greeks are confused,” added pensioner George Markoulakis.
“We definitely don’t want to leave Europe. No Greek wants to leave Europe. However all these measures have brought many people to their knees, who are now saying: ‘Let’s get on with it’. We are all very sad but we don’t want to leave Europe.”
Slashing a top-up payment for poorer pensioners is one of the reported reform proposals Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has put on the table.
It may be a difficult pill to swallow but some Greeks now reluctantly believe it is a necessary step to saving their country from bankruptcy – and being booted out of the eurozone.