COMMENT

Reality's other side

By Alexis Papachelas

There is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that the country’s real economy has hit rock bottom and is currently entering a phase of growth. Those who know the market well tend to support this point of view. What’s more, if the tourism sector ends up faring better than has been predicted for this year, Greece could be facing a completely different situation by fall.

At the same time you come across random references regarding things starting to move in a positive direction in the local market. Stores are opening again while companies seem to be picking up speed and are slowly starting to employ staff again. Even increased traffic on the streets appears to signal change and that the country is returning to some kind of normality.

That’s one side of reality, however, a reality we should not get entrapped in for there are still thousands of people out there who feel they are not in a position to cross over to the other side, people who are living in particularly tough conditions. Surely the distribution of a portion of the country’s primary surplus to about 1 million Greeks is a positive outcome, but at the end of the day it makes only a slight difference to pensioners who cannot make ends meet and who visit their banks on a daily basis to check what’s left in their pension accounts.

Meanwhile, unemployed 50-year-olds with families feel trapped and unable to imagine how and when they will be part of the work force again. Young people looking for a job are losing hope and are constantly thinking that leaving Greece could be a solution.

We cannot and should not forget all of these people now that the figures have started to improve and things are looking up. They comprise a crucial percentage of the country’s population and play a pivotal role in political developments. They are angry people who are not affected by politicians’ promises and consider that the recovery on the horizon has nothing to do with them and will not affect them in any way. We must hope that some of these people will find work within a reasonable period of time.

Others, however, will remain trapped in long-term unemployment and its horrifying side effects as well as poverty. It is our duty not to leave these people behind, just as it is our duty not to be under the illusion that things are changing for them as well just because there seem to be more cars circulating on the streets or because a number of Greek travel destinations observed high visitor numbers over the recent Easter holiday.

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