Saturday 17 February 2018

Celebrations have dimmed and the reality is kicking in

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the Chancellery in Berlin yesterday
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the Chancellery in Berlin yesterday
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

The celebrations have dimmed and it is time for the Greek public to digest their resounding No vote. Thoughts immediately turned yesterday to how the country would survive in the short term.

Banks remain closed with the only exceptions granted to pensioners who had not yet been issued with bank cards.

And while the daily limit is still €60, banks right around the country have now run out of €20 notes, leaving Greeks forced to settle for €50 a day.

As the government tried to allay fears about the country running out of cash, it extended free public transport throughout Athens.

While the metro and trams in the city had initially been free for customers for one week until the referendum, signs erected overnight stated that all such transport would now be free until further notice.

Workers in the tourist industry in Athens said the instability had caused a massive drop off in bookings, especially among Greeks.

"Our domestic market is gone, there are no bookings," said Richard Stanton (36) who works in an Athens tourist agency.

He said problems were now arising with paying their travel providers abroad.

"We have our cash in Greece as a company and we cannot access this cash. We are not able to pay our providers for tickets from outside. It is a very worrying time," the No voter added.

"I trust my country and I believe they do the right thing when voting. We will survive this."

George Gregorious (68) had worked for the Union of Airlines in Greece, representing airlines and tourist agencies. He lost his job last week.

"I had expected it to happen. There has been such a drop, they could not keep the jobs. If we do not reach an agreement soon it will be disastrous for Greece," he said.

The news that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had resigned was met with mixed reactions.

Mr Gregorious had voted for the European deal, however, he expressed concern that the outspoken minister would no longer form part of any future negotiations.

"I like Varoufakis, I have read all his books and I admire him. While I did not agree with the plans he as part of Syriza put forward and I believe he as a minister reacted too powerfully, now is the moment when he is needed the most," he added.

At noon a large crowd gathered outside the Ministry of Finance to see Mr Varoufakis leave for the final time. Supporters mixed with journalists in the hope that the outspoken Minister would set off with one final swipe at the EU. However, the ex-minister and university lecturer for once kept his own counsel as he left the offices on motorbike.

Tina Myntz Zymaraki said she believed the decision by the divisive minister was the right one.

"I think it is a good compromise, that he is staying on board as an advisor but taking a step back as minister.

"Any Yes voter cannot stand the sight of him so I think this is a decent compromise as it appeases those who hate him," she added.

in Athens

Irish Independent

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