Thousands Protest As Greek Parliament Approves Second Round of Austerity Measures
Demonstrators tell TRNN’s Dimitri Lascaris why they oppose reforms demanded by Greece’s creditors and why they support leaving the Eurozone
DIMITRI LASCARIS, ATHENS, GREECE: We’re here in front of the Greek parliament where a very large crowd is gathering in anticipation of a second vote on the prior actions required by the creditors of Greece pursuant to the July 13 agreement with Greece’s creditors. We’ve been trying to get people to go on the record and speak to us about why they’re out here, and we’re being met with a wall of silence.
And I just asked somebody off the record why people are so reluctant here to speak to a journalist. And they brought to my attention a Greek saying, one that figured very prominently during the protest that led up to the oxhi vote in the July 5 referendum. I’m not going to repeat it because it was full of expletives. But basically what she told me is the journalists in this country have lost all respect of the populace and the protesters simply have no interest in speaking to them. Which is unfortunate, but I think is really telling in terms of the quite negative role that the media in this country have played in the crisis, in the descent of Greece into the current quagmire.
And we wanted to talk to people, the young people here who came out tonight because 80 percent of Greece’s youth, a very, very high percentage of the youth of Greece, voted oxhi in the July 5 referendum. And we’re wondering if you could explain to us what motivated so many young people of Greece to say no to the ultimatum that was put to Greece by the Troika.
PROTESTER: I think they wanted change, and for–since a long time, since Greece joined the EU, they have always been under pressure and haven’t always benefited the best things as opposed to France and other countries. And they wanted change. And now as Greece is in a [have a] recession, they want to get out of the EU so that they can continue with their own economy. And because ultimately the Euro isn’t a very good currency for them.
PROTESTER: I just think that the young people in Greece don’t find anything compelling in the European Union for their life, and their jobs, and their money. They just think that being alone is better.
LASCARIS: Given the choice, if you had to choose between the terms that Prime Minister Tsipras agreed to on July 13 and leaving the Eurozone, if you had to make that choice what would you choose?
PROTESTER: I’d leave the Eurozone.
PROTESTER: Yeah, me too.
LASCARIS: And you don’t have any real concerns about what the consequences of that would be for the Greek economy?
PROTESTER: On the short term it won’t be very good, but on the longer term it will be much more beneficial than if you stay with the EU.
LASCARIS: Is that a view you share?
LASCARIS: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
PROTESTER: Thank you.
LASCARIS: You know, during the oxhi vote, the referendum, the leaders of Europe they said repeatedly that if the Greek people voted oxhi that meant that Greece would have to leave the Eurozone.
PROTESTER: 61 percent voted oxhi.
LASCARIS: That’s right. And they said if they voted oxhi they would have to leave the Eurozone. If you had to choose between leaving the Eurozone and the austerity that the prime minister has agreed to, what would you choose?
PROTESTER: Of course leaving the Eurozone. We don’t [inaud.]. We don’t–.
LASCARIS: You would leave. And you, sir?
PROTESTER: Yes. We want to leave the fucking Eurozone, okay. We don’t want any more Eurozone.
LASCARIS: And what do you think would happen if Greece left the Eurozone?
PROTESTER: They have to have a second plan. A plan B. Because a plan B exists, but they are not willing to announce this plan B to the people.
LASCARIS: And why do you think they’re not willing?
PROTESTER: Because they are part of the system. And they said to us fucking lies. In order to vote them.
LASCARIS: Do you agree? And do you agree that they misled the Greek people?
PROTESTER: Yes, of course. Definitely.
LASCARIS: Do you think that that’s true of all the MPs in Syriza? Do you think the people on the left wing of Syriza, that they also lied? Or do you think that they are–.
PROTESTER: We can’t trust no one anymore.
PROTESTER: This deal is a, for us it’s a, it’s a blackmail. It’s going to bring us back very many years. And it’s not good for us. We have a lot of [message] of economy that is going to destroy our economy. It’s not going to be a progress to our debt. Our debt is going to be up. Our GDP. GDP is going to be more lower. So our debt is going to be more to [grow with].
LASCARIS: Do you think the government has explained to the people what this new deal means? Do you think they’ve done a good job?
PROTESTER: No. The government has betrayed the Greek people. Because when you have the–I don’t know the word about, sorry.
LASCARIS: The referendum?
PROTESTER: The referendum. All the people said no to this agreement. And then the government go and it was like, we’ll vote yes.
LASCARIS: So if you had to choose between the two you would choose leaving the Eurozone.
PROTESTER: Yes. Yes. Yes. But leaving the Eurozone without an agreement.
LASCARIS: Yes. I understand.
PROTESTER: Because if I leave Eurozone with an agreement for the debt then I will have more worse things of this. I have to explain to my loaners that the money in Greece was spent not only for the people. Was spent in the corruption, it was spent for companies, for money, [this].
LASCARIS: Thank you very much, sir.
PROTESTER: You’re welcome, [you’re welcome, my friend.].
ANASTASIA, PROTESTER: I’m Anastasia from Greece.
[BENNY KOCINA], PROTESTER: And I’m [Benny Kocina] from Germany.
ANASTASIA: Because we don’t believe in austerity measures. We’ve done this for five years and it’s pointless. More austerity will bring more austerity, and that’s why we’re here, to protest against the new austerity measures that were going to be voted today.
KOCINA: I think [inaud.] has got the solution. So it makes worse and worse and worse and the most people in Greece just suffer because of the politics.
LASCARIS: In the days before the referendum, Chancellor Merkel and Francois Hollande, Jean-Claude Juncker, they all said that if Greece voted no they would have to leave the Eurozone. If you were put to that choice, what would you choose? If you had to choose the austerity regime that Prime Minister Tsipras has agreed to, or leaving the Eurozone, what would you choose?
KOCINA: I think I would choose to leave the Euro, to have a Grexit, because with the politics of–the politics of Germany is [imperialistic] for me, and yes. I think the European Union must be updated. Now I think it’s shit.
LASCARIS: And yourself?
ANASTASIA: I think that this European Union has a huge democracy deficiency. So if it was in my personal choice, I would have chosen to leave Eurozone. But at this point it was–this is why there was a coup. This was the, the world trend hashtag. Because this government was put at gunpoint to vote for these austerity measures. To stay in Eurozone. Because at this particular moment our banks were closed, we were out of money, and we couldn’t do that. It would be the plan B, but it would be, like, either you shoot yourself, you kill yourself, or we’re going to kill you.
LASCARIS: So we’ve now had an opportunity to speak or at least attempt to speak to a number of protesters. Behind us there’s a gathering of organized labor, and they’re talking about the destruction of the rights of organized labor under this new agreement. What organized labor has suffered up until now, under the prior bailouts.
There’s a really, an interesting mixture of people here. One group of people was very reluctant to talk to us. Those were predominantly anarchists. Apparently they have a very low opinion of journalists, as we discovered. Others were much more willing to speak up. And together they’re all bound up in one purpose, and that is to put a stop to what they view as the destruction of Greek society and the strangulation of the Greek economy.
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