Europe

Greece under pressure: Dionisis Daradanis

Debt-stricken Greece is set to go to the polls again after parties failed to agree on a new government. Here, Dionisis Daradanis from our panel of residents shares his view on the latest twist in the Greek drama.

15 May 2012

I think that the left parties can be accused of allowing talks to collapse, but the truth is they remained true to their election commitments.

Europeans fear new elections in Greece because they know what is going to happen. We Greeks don't fear the elections. In democracy, elections are a prerequisite for the healthy functioning of society.

Syriza seems to be very powerful. It's the only party at the moment that has caught the pulse of society. Alexis Tsipras, the party's leader, is new and speaks in an understandable way.

In the last elections I voted for a left party. In the next elections I will consider voting for Syriza too. Although I don't agree with everything the party represents, I want to condemn the past years' policies and look for a new kind of society where workers can dream of a better future.

I never stole, never bribed, I always worked. I have the right to work, healthcare and education.

Regarding the euro, I do not believe that Syriza will say openly that they want to get out of the eurozone. But if they win these election, they will re-negotiate very hard the bailout deal which has brought the middle and working classes to their knees.

I don't think Angela Merkel would want Greece to leave the eurozone. That's because Greece is one of the best clients in German products. Greece will stay in the eurozone, one way or the other.

8 May 2012

The leader of Greece's left-wing Syriza party is to try to form a government after parties backing an international bailout deal failed to assemble a coalition.

The elections were marked by many as the most crucial in decades. I wondered whether these elections would illuminate the real problem of our country, the economic crisis or just the crisis of conscience.

Thank God, we still understand something here in Greece and we voted clearly.

The Pasok party - the party of momentums and salary cuts - dropped to 13% (from 41% in 2009) and the New Democracy party were at 18.8% (from 32% in 2009).

On the other hand, we saw an extreme rise for the left parties. I've said before that Greeks are revolutionary by nature but I don't know why Europeans cannot understand this.

I vote for a left party too. Firstly, I would have a conscience problem to vote for those who cut my salary from 700 euros per month to 350 and want to sell the public wealth of my country to foreigners.

I'm working in the private sector. Maybe today I'm going to get fired because I am expensive - 600 euros per month - or maybe tomorrow. We need solutions now.

A new problem came up with the result of this election - the Electoral Law provides for the first party a bonus of 50 seats in parliament.

This means that even the New Democracy won by just two percentage points from the second party, Syriza - this translates to 108 seats against Syriza's 50.

In my eyes at least this is not very democratic. What I want from now on is a strong left government who can say no to the austerity measures, momentums and pay cuts.

We must turn the pyramid of values back to an upright, so humanity and life are back on top.

21 February 2012

After Eurozone finance ministers agreed a second bailout for Greece after 13 hours of late-night talks in Brussels.

My reaction to the second bailout for Greece is exactly the same as it was for the first bailout. I try to figure out why they are using the same recipe while they've seen that the results were unsuccessful the first time.

The second bailout is like a "death penalty" for our economy. The tax increases in connection with the tragic decline in wages freezes the purchasing power of the Greeks.

Businesses take advantage of laws and dismiss their workers. Economists know better what happens in a capitalist state when not moving money into domestic commerce. The conditions that Europeans give to the second bailout is cruel. But this is the situation. Technocrats never see people behind the numbers they have learned to read.

The political situation in Greece was never stable. Now it is a bit worse. The two big Greek parties have lost the confidence of the people and left leaning parties rise up more and more. That's why people felt betrayed from the way Pasok and New Democracy handled the negotiations with Europe and IMF.

The general opinion is that the political "leaders" are giving away their mother in order to save the banks. We need a change. And Greeks are by nature rebellious people.

Regarding the future of Greece, I don't know what is going to happen today or tomorrow. So I can't answer with accuracy about the future. But I am cautiously optimistic. Because I know that people have come into the world to live unhappy. And the Greeks are now unhappy. My optimism stems from the hope that all this sooner or later will change radically. Nobody can live with these conditions.

11 November 2011

As new Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos sets out the priorities of his incoming coalition cabinet.

Mr Papademos is a good choice because he is familiar with most of the European leaders.

However, he is also the person who was partly responsible for the "Greek statistics" to make Greece part of the European Union and the euro.

Taking this into account, he is already guilty for today's situation in our country.

Also, as a technocrat, he is going to take stricter measures than Papandreou's government.

Mr Papademos is the one who is going to approve any measure that he is told to approve. He is just a marionette in the able hands of Sarkozy and Merkel.

There will be a new temporary government until 19 February, when elections will be held.

This reminds me of a football team firing the head coach in the middle of the season and appointing someone else half-way through.

The Greek debt crisis is worsening day by day. We need much more than a change of PM. This is the same politics with different politicians.

1 November 2011

Six leading members of Greece's governing Pasok party call on Prime Minister George Papandreou to resign after he announces a Greek referendum on the latest aid package aimed at solving its debt crisis.

The pressure on Prime Minister George Papandreou is going to be heavier and heavier.

Another member of the government has just quit so now the prime minister has only 152 members in the parliament. As a journalist, it feels as if Mr Papandreou is going for election and not for a referendum.

I think that he'll go for the elections. Otherwise, he's going to lose the stability of his own party. It's a very difficult situation to be in just before the vote of the Gross Domestic Product of the next year.

But there are two options. The opposition parties ask for elections as they are doubtful about the government's moves and they want to hear again what the people think. On the other hand, the government further considers a referendum.

Do we discuss it a lot here? The answer is no.

We do not believe that we are going to have either elections or a referendum. That is because Mr Papandreou's government is in a mandated service to satisfy the appetites of [other] Europeans.

So until the job is done, the government has to be on top. Also, if we consider the prospect of a referendum, what will be the question that is asked? If we want the Troika? If we want the Memorandum? If we want the taxes? If we want to be humiliated across Europe?

Tell me just one question which Greeks would answer "yes" to? There isn't one.

Greek people have expressed their opinions. We have expressed them by strikes; on the roads; fighting with the police for a better tomorrow.

A man was killed last week... does anyone think that we need a referendum in order to express ourselves?

It is the first time that people have discredited the whole political system. No-one believes that these kind of policies, or Troika, can give viable solutions for the Greeks. Our politicians need security in order to go forth in the parliament. That is the situation here in Greece.

27 October 2011

European leaders announce a plan to reduce Greece's debt

What is really important to Greek people are the policies implemented by our government, in close consultation with the Troika. This impacts on our lives.

For example, our government recently passed a bill repealing all IX collective bargaining agreements that gave rights to workers.

The French and the Germans want to make sure their money is safe. I can not blame them for that.

But I have every right as a Greek citizen to blame our government for relinquishing our national sovereignty to foreign countries.

Economic stability in Greece and solving the debt crisis should be entrusted to Greek bankers and business people who are familiar with the situation on the ground.

The 28th of October is a national holiday in Greece. During the Second World War Greece was threatened with invasion. On the 28th of October in 1940 the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini issued an an ultimatum to the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas to capitulate. Mr Metaxas defiantly replied with the word "ΟΧΙ" meaning "NO".

In contrast to that day when Greece said NO to fascism, we have YES to every demand made by European leaders. Once we had great stature on the world stage now we seem small.

19 October 2011

After riot police and protesters clash during a 48-hour general strike

"Greece is resisting today.

All commercial stores are closed, and the main motto is "closed for a day, in order not to be closed forever."

I don't know if these kinds of actions can help.

But I know that the main income of an average family has been reduced by 6,000 euros per year. Meanwhile, the cost of living is still expensive.

We do not have great psychological strength. Our limits are tested daily and will eventually break.

Public transportation drivers, sailors, customs officers, municipal officials, doctors, finance ministry officials, court officials, academic teachers and professors and taxi drivers are all on strike. Are they all crazy? I don't think so.

All the downtown squares and streets are full of people who want to live decently.

Fear, debt, money, banks - these are now all words familiar to every Greek's vocabulary.

We would rather go bankrupt than mortgage our lives for doing nothing."

10 October 2011

Following the Slovakian agreement to support a crucial bill ratifying changes to the EU bailout fund

"Slovakia's vote was public here in Greece, we all messed up with our governments.

Slovakia is a smaller country than Greece, with less history, but it seems their prime minister has more "nuts" than ours who only knows how to say "yes" to whatever Eurogroup and troika wants.

Slovakia shows us that there is another way. Maybe is harder, but it is more proud. And what is more important for a country than its pride? Nothing.

We have been called thieves, lazy, unreliable and many other adjectives which aren't true.

Our government's answer to all these was to increase the taxes, reduce salaries and increase the amount of time we work.

It is a time of big decisions, and big decisions are made by big men.

Our government only knows how to say yes to whatever hurt its people.

On October 19, one of the biggest strikes after the fall of dictatorship in 1974 will take place in Greece.

We are in the middle of great historical and political change, and the sooner Greek and European governments realise it, the better for all of us.

So, there are elections coming for Slovakia but what about Greece? They haven't asked us about that, or whether we want to be a part of the European Union, the eurozone, NATO, or if we want the troika.

Is this the famous Greek democracy? I'm really disappointed."

3 October 2011

Following the Greek government's announcement that it is unlikely to meet the deficit target and that the jobless rate was expected to rise

"Insecure is the word that represents how every Greek person is feeling. Insecurity about their jobs, their income, and insecurity about what is going to happen tomorrow.

Our economic system, which, in truth, does rely a lot on the public sector, has just stopped. This is because in order to work you have to feel a bit safe about your job.

I work in the private sector and I work more hours than before. I get paid less money, I produce more, I pay more taxes but yet the country is going to default. And what happens when we default? Then what? No work, no producing, no income?

Public sector workers - and it is true that there are more than we need - are facing the biggest and hardest pay cuts you can imagine. Some of them were overpaid. Others were not. But what can you say to all this?

When you know that Greece has about four-and-a-half, mainly educated people who can work and two million are without a job, the only thing you can do is to stay silent and thank God you can still pay for your bills and needs.

The other thing that we have noticed, in reaction to the situation, is that people here are becoming increasingly aggressive. And this is logical. You can see it in streets, in the way we drive, in people's faces, or in the way they behave towards others.

I don't know what life is like on the islands where things are always calmer than cities. But here in Athens, the Greek capital, things are marginal.

We are getting more and more tired everyday with this situation. We want and we need a solution.

I'm not afraid about the next bailout tranche. I'm sure that it is going be paid. I just worry about the terms involved with any bailout. What else will we have to pay for?

29 September 2011

After the vote was passed and Germany approved expanded powers for the EU's main bailout fund.

"Germany didn't really have an option. We owe them money and if we default not only are they never going to get that back, but generally their economy is going to suffer more.

They don't really care about Greece. Their first priority is to protect themselves by 'saving' us.

It is a relief on the one hand, but a necessity on the other!

It is very important for Greece to take the sixth instalment loan from Europe. Until then, the government doesn't have the required money to pay salaries and pensions."

28 September 2011

Before the German bail out vote.

"I hope they decide for the collective good of Europe. Of course Germany has to think about its own country, but I think that they are going to vote positively for the rescue package. The economic prosperity of Greece ensures the prosperity of German trade. They need us too.

Historically, Greece was never economically independent. First it was the Romans, then was the Byzantine, then the Ottoman empire.

In order to rebel against the Turks we had to get financial aid from Europe and the US and after our 'independence' we had to work in order to pay them back.

The situation we are living in today is unprecedented for all of us, so it is difficult to estimate what it will happen if they vote no to the rescue package.

Imagine a Greek default and an exit from eurozone: Would they leave us to owe money in euros and have an undervalued currency? I don't think that this is going to help either Greece or our lenders.

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