COMMUNITY

Greece teeters between fear and fatalism

TAGS: Euro, Society

"We don't sleep, everybody's worried," a Greek pensioner said.

With their future being decided thousands of kilometers (miles) away in Brussels by eurozone officials and EU leaders, ordinary people in Greece were split between fear and fatalism, questions swirling in their minds.

Will Greece get its bailout? Or will Germany and Finland block its rescue, sending the nation crashing out of the euro?

"Getting an agreement will be really difficult," said Angelos Panolas, a young unemployed man. "I don't see the European partners giving a gift to Greece."

A pensioner, Yiannis Theodoridis, remarked that the last few days have been "very hard," particularly given he had been unable to withdraw his full pension from the bank due to capital controls rationing withdrawals.

Daily limits from ATMs are capped at 60 euros ($67) and the expectation is they will run dry any day now unless the European Central Bank is persuaded – by a nascent bailout agreement – to inject emergency funds into Greece's banks.

Failing that, many worry that Greece could be forced to start printing its own money, or perhaps even go back to its pre-euro currency, the drachma.

"If we go back to the drachma it's all over, it will be a catastrophe and there will be no way back," Theodoridis said.

"It's a very difficult situation were in – we don't sleep, everybody's worried, there's no money, the banks are closed."

Irini Karanasiou, a 77-year-old Greek woman, complained that some eurozone nations were being too hard on the Greek government. "But at the same time, the Greeks are also responsible for the situation they're in" because "we weren't ready to negotiate from the start".

That said, she didn't want to think of Grexit as a reality. "It won't be good for anybody – not just us, but it also won't be good for Europe."

Katerina, a 23-year-old tour guide, saw malice in the way her country was being treated.

"I think our European partners are being really tough with us and with what they are saying about us. They want to show Greece in a bad light and make fun of us," she said.

Nikos, a pensioner, was blunter about Finland, which, with Germany, has openly come out opposing any new bailout for Greece.

"If we see 'Made in Finland' on a product, we won't buy it. Those people are so cold, they're the ones who should leave Europe."

Some embraced hope despite the odds.

Such as Antonis, a taxi driver who believed a deal would be struck no matter what.

"They (the creditors) say yes, they say no -- it's just to scare people. But in the end, they'll sign," he said.

[AFP]

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