Protests Erupt in Athens As Greece Approves Eurozone Bailout

TRNN’s Jaisal Noor speaks to protestors in Athens, Greece about why they oppose the $96 billion dollar Eurozone bailout the Greek Parliament passed late Wednesday by a vote of 229 to 64

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Story Transcript

JAISAL NOOR, PRODUCER, TRNN: I’m Jaisal Noor. We just arrived in Athens, Greece a few hours ago. And we are [inaud.]. We were just told we can’t film this police truck that’s gearing up for the expected protest tonight. Right now we’re walking over to the parliament building where parliament is debating whether or not to approve harsh austerity measures that will bail out the Greek economy. Massive protests are expected tonight. As you can see, the police are gearing up for their response, as well.

SPEAKER: People will fight in the streets. In the squares. And they will try not to pass this [memorandum].

NOOR: Police used tear gas to disperse protesters enraged that the Syriza government, elected on an anti-austerity platform, pushed through parliament by a 229-64 vote for a $96 billion bailout deal.

The Greek prime minister has defended the deal, even though according to critics it contains harsher measures than the proposal 61 percent of Greeks said no to in a referendum just a week and a half ago.

The move has threatened to split or even break the Syriza party, with several high-profile members voting against the measure, forcing the prime minister to rely on opposition figures to secure passage of the bailout, and spurring former supporters to brand the prime minister a traitor and take to the streets.

SPEAKER: I thought that Tsipras would stand. But he didn’t. He didn’t. Very disappointed.

NOOR: I spoke to demonstrators at Athens’ Syntagma Square about why they oppose the deal.

SPEAKER: It is a demonstration called by the Federation of Workers in the public sector. Together with the [inaud.] left and many other trade unions. Because today they will try to pass from the parliament the new memorandum. So we are here in order to demonstrate against the new memorandum, against austerity, and to all the attacks that this new memorandum will bring against the workers.

SPEAKER: We’ve come here to protest against the austerity program of the new Greek government. Because it’s an austerity program much worse that that of the right wing. And they are using the so-called [inaud.] left-wing government in order to implement the program that they couldn’t do it with the right-wing and the center-wing government.

SPEAKER: I don’t have a job. Do you see that? And now thing is that they don’t going to take more people on the jobs. And going to fire people because they don’t have the, have enough money to pay them.

SPEAKER: I think that the working masses, as the new memorandum goes on, they will realize on their own [inaud.] the austerity of the program and they will abandon the governing party.

NOOR: We also caught up with Michalis Spourdalakis. He’s the dean of the School of Economics and Politics at the University of Athens.

MICHALIS SPOURDALAKIS: So it seems to me that the government had no option but to sign the agreement. Going back to the Syriza’s party reaction, okay, of course, and 109 people out of 200 members of the center committee opposed to the agreement. But most of them, believe me, they don’t–they don’t want to go as far as bringing down the government. So they don’t want to abandon the chance that the left has.

There is another dimension to this agreement. This agreement is not only bad and antisocial. It’s an agreement that is not going to last for too long because it’s full of contradiction. It’s going to be absolutely incapable of dealing with Greece’s problem. So basically no matter what the level of criticism might be, and it should be criticized for that, the agreement. By staying in government, voting for the government, you gain a little bit of time. You lose credibility of course, but you gain a little bit of time hoping that you are getting closer to the Spanish election and you might have another major development there and you might change, eventually, the balance of power in Europe.

However, this whole experience has brought us an old question, but in a new light. Is European Union, or can a country, an individual country develop or have an alternative plan for its development and social cohesion leaving European Union, especially if it has proven that the current leadership pays no attention to democracy. That’s a key question.

NOOR: With Chris DeMillo, this is Jaisal Noor in Athens, Greece.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.