Crisis: Greece; People indifferent to swap success

Most Greeks indifferent about bond swap

09 March, 19:03

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    (ANSAmed) - ATHENS - The Greek debt swap is a success and the Greek government, as well as several EU members, are pleased with the result. It allows the country to obtain the second 130 billion euro bailout package from its international lenders and to avoid a default. But most people in Greece are not interested in the whole affair, not even fully understanding terms like ''PSI'', ''swap'' or ''CAC''. Common people in Greece are in fact not at all affected by today's triumphant announcement by Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, but continue to focus on the question how to make it to the end of the month. It is true, as many observers say, that the story of the treasury bond swap (PSI) has been going on for months and people have become accustomed to both the threats and the compliments made by the government. Most Greeks have given in to a type of impotent resignation, forming a ''silent majority'' which has never taken to the streets or has tired of doing so, realising that peaceful protests nor throwing Molotov cocktails and burning shops in the end have any effect. ''Yes, I have heard about the bond swap but to be honest I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing for Greece,'' admits retired nurse Elias Papadimitriou. ''I must think about it. On the one hand I believe that all the money flowing to Greece is positive, but I think that it will not solve the problem of more than a million people without a job and of so many people who don't even have enough to eat." Pavlos Anastasiades, 37 years old, manager of an news-stand on the central Kolonnaki square agrees: ''Even if Europe gives Greece another 130 billion euros, it won't be of any use. Our corrupt politicians will take that money as well and our country will go bankrupt." But where the normal people are indifferent or perhaps upset about the swap deal, the reactions of the politicians are naturally a different story.

    ''The agreement with private lenders has been closed with positive results, not only regarding the debt, but also regarding the future of the country and of our children,'' said former Premier Giorgos Papandreou, leader of the socialist Pasok party for a few more days. ''It is a provocation and a impudence from the side of Venizelos, Papademos and their friends to applaud this swap,'' said Aleka Papariga, leader of the communist party (Kke), who added that ''only the banks and creditors will gain from this. Thanks to this PSI, a new round of plundering of the Greek people will start in June." According to Giannis Michelakis, spokesman of the centre-right Nea Dimocratia party (ND), ''the positive development of the swap of bonds held by private parties shows why we support the government of Lucas Papadimos. Without our support, today's result would not have been possible. Now we need measures to boost the economy, for which we need a new government with a strong backing from the population." The leader of the Democratic Left party, Fotis Kouvelis, called the swap deal a ''sigh of relief'', despite the fact that the fact that there are still issues that have ''a negative impact, like the welfare funds and the small investments made by private investors." The usually very sceptical Giorgos Karatzaferis, leader of the far-right Laos party, commented that ''after what has happened, people in Greece must understand that we will not be able to ask money from the market for 10 or 20 years. We must understand that if Greece needs a loan, nobody will have any confidence in its treasury bonds. I really don't understand the reason for so much enthusiasm,'' he concluded. (ANSAmed).

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