Relief Vies With Sense of Shame on Streets of Athens
Greeks resigned themselves Tuesday to a 130-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout that won their country a last-minute reprieve from bankruptcy at the price of a decade of austerity and humiliating foreign scrutiny of national finances.
Agreements among euro zone ministers during all-night talks in Brussels secured a second rescue package since 2010 in return for a new round of spending cuts that have already cost thousands of jobs and gnawed painfully into public services.
Relief vied with a sense of shame on the streets of Athens as Greeks who in two months could be choosing a new government digested what the deal means for a country now being treated as the sick patient of the 17-nation currency union.
“We are like drug addicts who have just been given their next dose, this is what they’ve reduced our country to,” Ioulia Ioannou, 70, a retired nurse, said of the country’s politicians.
“I don’t know who I will vote for. I’d vote for a new party if someone had the courage to create one,” said the life-long voter for the ruling Socialist PASOK party, whose popularity has been hammered by the crisis.
“For the first time, I’m embarrassed to say I’m Greek.”