Many Greeks doubt deal will improve lives

People demonstrating in front of the Greek parliament in Athens.
People demonstrating in front of the Greek parliament in Athens. PHOTO: AFP

ATHENS • Misery, humiliation and slavery are how economist Haralambos Rouliskos, 60, described the agreement that secured Greece's third bailout in five years.

Many like him are rejecting the bailout terms, with ordinary Greeks expressing scepticism that the deal would bring about any improvement to their lives.

"It would be better not to have a deal than the way it was done because it will certainly be worse for the years to follow," said business owner Lefteris Paboulidis, who runs a dating service.

But there were others who said the bailout terms were necessary for Greece to stay in the euro zone.

"The terms agreed for the bailout are going to make life very hard for all of us," said clothing shop manager Melina Petropoulou, 41.

"But I agree with the idea of Sunday (shop) openings, it's a measure that will allow those who work all week to have more time to buy our products, which can only help the economy."

Extending shop operating hours is one of the key measures Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will have to rush through the Greek Parliament by tomorrow as part of a deal thrashed out between the 19 euro zone nations in overnight talks to keep Greece in the euro zone. His government has to adopt key measures on tax hikes, pension reforms and a debt repayment fund to secure a bailout worth up to €86 billion (S$130 billion).

Without it, the country's economy will collapse.

Ms Katerina Katsaba, 52, who works for a pharmaceutical company, was not in favour of the deal but said: "I trust our Prime Minister - the decisions he will take will be for the best interests of all of us."

Others inside the country, and in other EU member states, took to Twitter to express anger at the perceived bullying of Greece by Germany.

A hashtag, #ThisIsACoup, was trending widely as Twitter users claimed Greece was effectively being stripped of fiscal sovereignty.

Prominent commentators like Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman helped propel the term into the mainstream. He wrote: "The trending hashtag #ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty and no hope of relief."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2015, with the headline 'Many Greeks doubt deal will improve lives'. Print Edition | Subscribe