Tuesday 27 September 2016

Greeks are split over latest Tsipras bailout proposals

There's joy, optimism, and a faint sense of betrayal on the streets of Athens, writes Caroline Crawford in Greece

Published 12/07/2015 | 02:30

EITHER WAY, WE WILL SURVIVE: Minalous Tiropolous, who owns a tavern on the waterfront of Poros
EITHER WAY, WE WILL SURVIVE: Minalous Tiropolous, who owns a tavern on the waterfront of Poros

As news spread through Greece that their government had backed stark proposals for a new bailout, the ordinary citizens who have suffered through the crisis were split.

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At the ATM machines, people queued as they have for the last fortnight for their daily limit of €60. Already in many areas, only €50 was available, with smaller notes completely gone. Many had concerns that by tomorrow, the banks may have run out of cash.

"If there is not a deal today, there will be no point standing here tomorrow. There is no more money, this is the end," said George Kaulogiosmous (53).

The bank manager has watched the queues outside his Athens bank every day for the past two weeks. He said people were becoming increasingly desperate.

"The smaller bills are all gone and that makes people upset and afraid. People have only been surviving, they have not been able to pay debts but that cannot continue," he said.

Mr Kaulogiosmous had voted Yes in last week's referendum. He said the latest agreement from the Greek government in the early hours of Saturday morning was a good thing.

"Greece needs to be in Europe. Things will be hard for many months and years, but this was the only way," he added.

However, for pensioner Alexander, the news was a betrayal by a government which he claimed had been beaten down by Europe.

"They wanted to break us. There was no reason to close the banks. This was Europe, they wanted the people to make no resistance," he said.

He proudly revealed he had voted Oxi in the referendum, insisting: "If we had voted Yes, it would have been much worse."

However, he now fears the country will be "punished" by Europe after the Syriza government put forward a tough package of cuts for Greece, which leader Alexis Tsipras admitted fell short of the party's anti-austerity pledges.

"The people who were afraid were the people with money, the rest of the people were willing to fight. Now that is gone," he added.

Tavern owner Minalous Tiropolous greeted the news with ambivalence.

"For me, this is all a big game, the tourists do not care about this. This is a game any way they [Syriza] sign," he added.

Mr Tiropolous, who lives on nearby Poros Island, said regardless of the outcome today, Greek people needed to become more self-sufficient.

"I have 2,000sq meters of land. I grow my own tomatoes, I have lemons and I have my boat for fish. Greece has the climate to live, we must stop importing all these things we can grow ourselves. We will survive either way," he added.

Nick, who owns a jewellery shop on the island, laid the blame for the instability firmly at the feet of European leaders.

"The European Union is responsible for what has happened to Greece and people are very annoyed at this. Everybody knows it is the Europeans who have closed the banks, not the Greek government. This crisis has been caused by Europe," he insisted.

But despite his anger, he was confident of a deal with Europe today.

"Everything will be fixed in a day or two. Things will be normal in Greece and they will get better," he added.

Sunday Independent

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