Greek government claims better times ahead as bailout ends

Greek government claims better times ahead as bailout ends
By Mark Armstrong

As Greece's bailout programme comes to an end the government claims the main causes have been solved and unemployment will come down

This weekend marks the end of Greece's financial bailout programme, during which it received over 300bn euros.

The government sees it as a turning point after a period of several years that saw hundreds of thousands of job losses, steep tax rises, and deep cuts in its welfare budget.

"After a long period and after so many sacrifices, Greece has tackled the two main causes of the problem," Greek Minister of the Environment and Energy George Stathakis told euronews,  "which were the enormous budget deficits and the huge deficit in the trade balance. These two major problems have been cured, although the cost was high".

So high in fact that for many Greeks too much damage has already been done. A recent poll found that three-quarters of the population think the country is heading in the wrong direction. More than 400,000 people have left Greece, and for those who remain, especially the young, finding work is a huge problem. But the government says it's getting better.

"Within three years, unemployment has fallen by more than six percentage points and will continue to decline.," said Efi Achtsioglou, Minister of Labour and Social Security. "My own assessment is that by September 2019 we will be able to bring the unemployment rate close to 18 percent. This means about eight to nine percentage points from where we started with unemployment".

The worst may well be over, but the repercussions are likely to be felt for decades to come.

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