A coffee or even a visit to a tavern is unthinkable for both of them
The name change is not enough for conservatives and nationalists, because a northern Greek province is also called Macedonia. They mobilize against the compromise and criticize the fact that in future a Macedonian language and a Macedonian nation would be recognized internationally.
The parliament in Skopje has already approved the new name; now the Greek parliament has to agree. The vote is expected to take place next week.
Sources used: dpa news agency
The end of the Greek aid programs – the end of the crisis? Not for most Greeks. t-online.de met people who felt the recession in every nook and cranny.
While the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is symbolically announcing the end of “the time of memoranda” from the island of Ithaca today, little has changed for the Greek population. Ithaca, the destination of the Homeric Odyssey, was deliberately chosen by the symbolism-conscious Tsipras as the place for his address to the people.
The country’s austerity programs began with an address by then Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou. On April 23, 2010, he announced that he would go to the IMF from the remote island of Kastelorizo with the words: “We are on a difficult path, a new odyssey for Greece. But now we know the way to Ithaca and the route is mapped … “
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: In a symbolic place on the island of Ithaca, he is announcing the end of the austerity programs. (Source: Andrea Bonetti / Greek Prime Minister’s Office / AP / dpa)
Today, more than eight years later, the EU Commission is hailing the end of the austerity program as a success. The economic indicators look good at first glance. For the first time since the beginning of the crisis, the official unemployment rate fell below 20 percent. Tourism reports record numbers. The statistics of the central bank of Greece show that in June 2018 an impressive 22.3 percent more tourists came to the country.
Sounds like a positive outlook, which is clouded over again when you look at the foreign trade statistics for the first half of 2018. Because compared to 2017, the foreign trade deficit rose by 535 million euros to two billion euros. The sheer numbers of the debt ratio are also sobering. The Greek state now owes 180.4 percent of the gross domestic product, 323 billion euros, at the end of the third loan program. 127.9 percent, 299.7 billion euros, stood at the end of 2009. The rise in the debt ratio is due to the rapid recession Greece suffered during the crisis.
A coffee or even a visit to a tavern – unthinkable
This recession is felt all over the country. “Before the crisis, and even in 2011, I earned just under 1200 euros, my wife brought 1000 euros home,” complains 44-year-old Dimitris. Today he and his wife Kaiti have to work together with 1,400 euros per month. You are one of the lucky ones in the country because both of them were able to keep their jobs. “With an old contract, I was put on four hours per shift, that’s 420 euros net per month,” explains Kaiti (40), “a few weeks ago new employees in our supermarket signed part-time contracts for 210 euros net. For the same work! “
January 2016: At a food distribution in Athens, a man holds a bag of tangerines in his arms while others tug at him. (Source: Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters)
A coffee or even a visit to a tavern is unthinkable for both of them. You can look forward to an inherited apartment in Chalkida, just under 90 km from Athens. Here in the province, Dimitris can at least keep the costs of staple food in check on a field plot in his mother-in-law’s village with potatoes, fruit and vegetables. Olive trees provide the salad oil, the busy Dimitris gains sweeteners from processing figs.
You put money aside for the children starting school
The couple’s hours together fall by the wayside, because both work in shifts to improve their monthly salary – even on weekends and public holidays. Both are already putting money aside for their children to start school in early September. “In addition to the exercise books and pens for the little ones, we have to supply the schools with teaching materials for around 70 euros per child. This is required of all parents because the schools get less and less money from the state, ”Kaiti reports.
In addition, tutoring is mandatory. The son of the family is officially taught German and English as foreign languages at school. “In the last school year no German teacher was sent to the school, but in the new school year the lessons build on the previous year”, Dimitris describes the problem faced by many parents. “Those of our friends who got into debt before the crisis, be it to go on vacation, or to buy a car or a house, are now in a debt trap beyond recovery,” Kaiti sums up.
Architect Natalia Papastoitsi: "Despite eight years of crisis there is no trace of meritocracy. “(Source: Wassilis Aswestopoulos)
"A young person doesn’t want to just dream"
It is gloomy life prospects like those of Dimitris and Kaiti that urge young, qualified Greeks to emigrate. The 25-year-old Natalia first tried to change location in the country. From the northern Greek province it went to Athens. The young architect with a very good degree quickly found a job there. Her partner of the same age, an electrical engineer specializing in computer technology, did not remain unemployed for a day, unlike half of her peers.
“The inability of the local economy to keep talented people in the country is a drag. Even from a city as vibrant and creative as Athens, the circumstances of everyday life can drive young people away"says Natalia. "A young person not only wants to dream, but also wants to make their dreams come true. He needs the chance to develop personally and as a person. At the moment everything is difficult or impossible for us, despite eight years of crisis there is no trace of meritocracy. “
Young, well educated, with no prospects
Many of Natilia’s college and school friends are already abroad. Her twin sister earns more in Belgium in one month than Natalia and her partner earn more than two months together. Natalia is now intensively improving her knowledge of German. Your friend already has the prospect of a job at a German company.
Idyll without guests: beach tavern in Nea Artaki on Euboea. (Source: Wassilis Aswestopoulos)
Young emigrants are also a factor that lowers official unemployment statistics. What is rarely mentioned in the proud statistics of tourism is that it mainly brings package tourists into the country. The small taverns that live in places not covered by mass tourism such as Nea Artaki on Euboea from walk-in customers and especially from local tourists, on the other hand, remain empty even in the high season. All this spoils the party mood despite the official end of the third austerity program.
Sources used: own research
The Greek voters are no longer interested in experiments: the conservative opposition could win an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections. But what do the Greeks hope for?
"The cake has to get bigger." With this statement, which is deliberately not a promise, the conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has at least won the polls. Forecasts predict his party Nea Dimokratia, the Greek counterpart to the CDU, to win in the parliamentary elections on Sunday.
He can hope for 38 percent and more. That would secure him an absolute majority in parliament with 300 members, because in order to simplify the formation of a government, the strongest party receives an additional 50 seats in the plenary in addition to the elected members. The current Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing party Syriza would be relegated to the opposition bench.
Many Greeks currently have no problem switching parties – the main thing is that the still ailing country continues to stabilize. And that is exactly what Mitsotakis is suggesting with his cake: he will not give out hasty election gifts, instead, the economy, i.e. the cake, has to get bigger before something can be distributed and we can talk about pension increases, more social spending or state investments.
Tsipras made it easy for the technocrats
The pragmatism of the conservative Mitsotaki known as the technocrat seems to be working. The left ruling party made it easy for him. It started in 2015 to crush the debt crisis by indirectly threatening the EU not to repay the debt. However, the full-bodied promises turned into the opposite: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was forced to implement one austerity program after another in order to save the country from bankruptcy.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: The conservative wants to strengthen Greece economically. (Source: imago images)
With success: the international aid programs for Greece were ended last summer. The country is back on its own two feet again, albeit shaky. But the political price is high because the people of Tsipras resent the harsh measures.
For their part, the conservatives can now fully focus on the economy, an area that the left under Tsipras often found difficult for ideological reasons. Foreign investments were regularly blocked, as was the privatization of state companies to supposedly evil capitalists.
Emigrated skilled workers should return
Mitsotakis wants to create a business-friendly climate – dismantle the notorious Greek bureaucracy, take action against nepotism, abolish the clientele system. The corporate tax is to be reduced from 28 to 20 percent within four years, and the taxes for low-wage earners are also to be reduced, which should stimulate the economy.
Another promise made by the conservatives is based on this assumption: Mitsotakis wants to bring back the more than 400,000 skilled workers who have emigrated to find jobs since the beginning of the economic crisis. The "Brain drain" is problematic – according to the Athens Medical Association, among other things, more than 18,000 doctors have turned their backs on the country.
Luring these people back to Greece only works with more and better paid jobs. "Mitsotakis has to deliver quickly"says the Athens economics professor Panagiotis Petrakis. "While it didn’t make a lot of promises, there must be signs immediately that the economy is moving forward and that said pie is growing." The expert believes it won’t be that easy. In his view, there are still many who do in the New Dimokratia "don’t think so modern" like its chairman.
Share prices on the Athens Stock Exchange have risen
The markets, on the other hand, seem already convinced: no sooner had Prime Minister Tsipras announced new elections after his party’s poor performance in the European elections than share prices on the Athens Stock Exchange shot up. And what’s more, the prospect of a conservative government pushed yields on Greek government bonds to a historic low. It is currently just over two percent, a value that has never been seen before for the risk-rated country.
Alexis Tsipras: After the European elections, the Greek Prime Minister called new elections. (Source: dpa)
Prime Minister Tsipras warns voters about one "new liberalism", who are partly to blame for the country’s debt spiral. He himself also promises to take care of the middle class, which is badly battered by taxes and duties, but also wants to take social aspects into account. He emphasizes that he has not given up the fight; the voting decision will only be made on Sunday.
Despite everything: Tsipras is not without a chance
And indeed, his Syriza is not really bad with forecasts of 24 to 29 percent of the vote, especially in comparison to other socialist parties in Europe. Many Greeks have not forgotten that the conservatives in particular are causing the crisis and, over the years, with bribery scandals "shined" to have.
Mitsotakis also belongs to the old Greek political aristocracy – his father Konstantin was once the Greek prime minister, his sister Dora Bakogianni mayor of Athens and foreign minister, his nephew has just won the election as mayor of Athens. Many voters criticize and fear this "Clans"with which it is impossible to turn the country inside out and make it honest.
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Regardless of whether left or right, whether Tsipras or Mitsotakis, the Greeks are united in this election above all in one wish: that the difficult times finally come to an end.
Sources used: dpa news agency
Violent riots in Greece: Thousands of people take to the streets because of a new law. Some protesters hurled incendiary bottles. The police step in with tear gas.
Thousands of people demonstrated in central Athens on Thursday evening in protest against a new demonstration law. Autonomous and other sympathizers of the so-called "Black blocks" rioted. The police used tear gas and stun grenades to stop the rioters throwing fire bottles and other objects around them. This was reported by several reporters on site.
Trade unions of the Communist Party and the left-wing Syriza party led by former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for the demonstration. With the new law, all demonstrations must be registered. The public prosecutor’s office can ban them if there is a risk of rioting. In addition, the organizer must take all necessary measures to ensure that the rally runs smoothly. If this does not happen, the organizer can be held accountable.
The conservative head of government Kyriakis Mitsotakis declared in parliament that the right of all people must be respected "both those who want to demonstrate and those who want to go to work or have to go to hospital". The approval of the law in the late evening was considered certain, as the ruling party has the necessary majority.