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EU bailout of Greece – “robbery and swindle”

Published time: June 29, 2011 10:50
Edited time: July 15, 2011 13:32

On the streets of Athens the voices of discontent are growing louder. From the next bailout installment the Greek politicians are eager to receive, the people will not get a penny, experts believe.

“Not a cent of this bailout money actually comes into the Greek economy,” author and economic analyst Nick Skrekas told RT. “It all goes out into interest payments and repayments.”

Whilst the battle is on to save the banks and prevent a large-scale financial crisis, for the Greek people the price is simply too high.

“They see their income going down, they see taxes, taxes, taxes and nothing else,” said journalist Stylianos Chrysostomidis. “The money does not go to the real economy.”

A year of struggling against harsh austerity measures has meant the government now faces an electorate vehemently opposed to another bailout.

According to RT correspondent Sarah Firth, who is currently in Athens, people on the streets of the Greek capital are questioning when the Three – the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank – will stop looking at ways to push more bailout money towards Greece and really come to a plan B.

Firth said that when it comes to the Three, many people now in Greece simply do not want their help – viewing their actions as being borne out of self interest.

“They try very simply and in a practical way to get as much as they can. So they are going to get all the state property … from the Greek people,” said economics expert Yiannis Tollios. “It is incredible but that is the situation.”

The bailout would certainly come at a high cost – further cuts in public spending, a raise in taxes and an aggressive privatization program that would mean the sale of many Greek public assets.

“This is robbery, this is theft, this is [a] swindle,” believes Stylianos Chrysostomidis.

Tension on the streets of Athens continues to mount. The violent scenes witnessed recently come as a disturbing testimony to just how far the situation has deteriorated.

However, the country’s government is pushing for the cuts.

“One of the reasons that everybody is so determined to keep Greece in the euro is so that the banks do not have to take a serious hit on their faulty lending policies,” said Nigel Farage, Member of the European Parliament from the UK Independent Party. “It is almost as if there is an unholy alliance of politicians and bankers versus ordinary people.”

Financial journalist Demetri Kofinas agrees that what is happening in Greece now is “a hostile takeover”. He says that raising taxes will in no way help steer Greece out of the crisis.

"You are not going have capital investments in the country if you raise taxes. You are not going to have capital investments in country if you are only interested in liquidating assets, liquidating prices and not reforming laws. What does it matter if the public utility companies or monopoly companies are owned by the state or monopoly companies are owned by some company in Germany or France? It makes no difference. In fact it will be worse,” Demetri Kofinas said. “In fact, we want privatization. We want real privatization. We do not want liquidation and hostile takeovers which is what we have now.”

­It is a fight that the people say they are not prepared to lose and journalist Zarkadoula Eirini witnessed clashes between police and protesters becoming increasingly angry after the austerity cuts were voted for by the Greek parliament.

“Protesters continue to fight with the police. They are throwing stones at the police and the policemen are answering by throwing grenades and tear-gas. There is dense smoke in the sky but also in the metro station of Constitution Square. Even inside the metro station there are people who are trying to hide, but there is smoke in there.”

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