By Hanif Ghaffari

Greece’s anger flaring up 

January 14, 2019

TEHRAN - As predicted, despite the adoption of austerity policies for 11 years, Greece is still one of the most austerity-stricken countries in the EU. Although Greece was supposed to emerge from the bailout by 2012, and step towards economic prosperity, heavy debts prevented the realization of this process. The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund loaned Greece a total of €289bn ($330bn) in three programs, in 2010, 2012 and 2015.

 Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tspiras and other officials of the country, despite their party's anti-austerity approach, are not able to resist the pressure of countries like Germany and France. It's not without a reason that German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has become a despised figure in Greece.

The continuation of austerity policies in Greece raised the anger of Greek citizens on the one hand, and, on the other hand, it prevented the economic growth inside the country. An important point to be taken into consideration about the Greece crisis is whether this country is about to remain or exit from the Eurozone.

 Actually, Athens might decide to leave the Eurozone and return to its previous currency, Drachma. Such a return means Greece’s entering a new economic phase. In this case, Greece will no longer be a member of the Eurozone. It should be noted that some European countries are opposed to Greece’s withdrawal from the Eurozone, and warned Athens that Greece would then have to say goodbye to the European Union as well. This is despite the fact that many Greek citizens are asking for a return to the European Union (while leaving the Eurozone).

The Greek government has always insisted on developing new plans for moving in the road of austerity policies because otherwise, it won’t be able to fulfill its commitments in implementing the EU plans for receiving foreign financial assistance This led the Greek lawmakers t approved new measures demanded by international creditors, including cuts to benefits for large families and restrictions on trade unions.

 Alexis Tsipras, who is supporting these policies, has been emphasizing that this would move Greece a step closer to emerging from its international bailout. Greece has signed three loan agreements with foreign creditors since it verged on bankruptcy in 2010. But the fact is that years of pension cuts and tax increases have left the Greek citizens extremely discontent with the austerity plans. 

At this point, the Greeks are really hopeless about passing the economy crisis, and the stop of austerity policies at least in the near future. The truth is that there’s no prospective for Greece to pass the current crisis and upgrade its economy to the level it stood before 2010. But it looks like some Greek authorities are regarding the situation with unrealistic optimism, promising their citizens that this belt-strengthening period is soon to be over.

 However, we can clearly see that Merkel’s plans for Greece was defeated, and the Greeks don’t see any reasons to comply with her plan. On the other hand, the Greek leaders couldn’t come forth with an overall solution in this regard, and their austerity policies are no longer accepted by the society. This failure has been highlighted as the result of several factors, including the intensification of Euro crisis. It’s not without a reason that the experts are warning about the Greeks’ protests in 2019.

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