Saturday, October 29, 2011

No Joy in Greece Over the E.U.'s New Deal

by Joanna Kakissis


October 28, 2011

The parade on Friday was supposed to commemorate Greece's resistance during World War II. Seventy-one years ago on this day, Greece refused to let Italy's fascist ruler, Benito Mussolini, bring his troops into the country. Greeks took to the streets chanting "Ohi!" — "No!" — to show that they wouldn't give up their sovereignty to anyone.

But this year many Greeks came to the parade to say "no" to austerity. As schoolchildren in navy-blue and white uniforms walked passed parliament in Athens, waving Greek flags to marching-band music, anti-austerity protesters booed riot police and told off their politicians. "We want freedom, not another dictatorship!" they chanted.

"We have got to stop the corruption," said Silia Vitoratou, a 35-year-old statistician at the demonstration on Friday. "We no longer feel like we're represented by our politicians, [we feel] that the bond between citizen and state has been irrevocably damaged. We've got to make ourselves heard because, as the old folks say, if you're not part of the answer, then you're part of the problem."

The protesters are clearly not impressed with the landmark deal made early Thursday between European leaders and international lenders to write off half of the face value of Greek debt and give the country another $140 billion in bailout loans. Under the deal, Greece must still implement the austerity measures that parliament has already passed, which include job and wage cuts in the public sector, tax hikes, a controversial new property tax and privatization of state assets.


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