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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 23 January, 2020

'This deal is misery, humiliation and slavery for Greece'

But some ordinary Greeks support a new bailout as the only option for their country.

Greek pensioners queue outside a bank today.
Greek pensioners queue outside a bank today.
Image: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

GREEKS ARE BRACING for the effects of the tough terms of an agreement that secured the country’s third bailout in five years.

Haralambos Rouliskos, a 60-year-old economist who was out walking in Athens, described the deal as “misery, humiliation and slavery”.

Katerina Katsaba, a 52-year-old working for a pharmaceutical company, said she was not in favour of the deal.

“I know (the eurozone creditors) are trying to blackmail us,” she said.

But, Katsaba added: “I trust our prime minister – the decisions he will take will be for the best interests of all of us.”

The outline deal thrashed out between the 19 eurozone nations in strained overnight talks calls for Greece to push through a range of reforms to secure a bailout worth up to €86 billion. Without it, the country’s economy will collapse.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will have to rush key measures on tax hikes, pension reforms, and a debt repayment fund through parliament.

Europe Greece Bailout Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Source: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

Life will be ‘very hard’

Many ordinary Greeks were sceptical that the deal would bring about any improvement to their lives.

“It would be better not to have a deal than the way it was done because it will certainly be worse for the years to follow,” said Lefteris Paboulidis, 35, who owns a dating service.

I would have preferred something else to happen, such as Grexit, where we would have starved in the beginning but dealt with it ourselves,” he said.

Greece Bailout Source: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Ilias, a 26-year-old civil servant, agreed. “The important thing is for the country to be better off — not so much if we stay in Europe or not, that is the last thing to think of,” he said.

If we stay in Europe and the country goes from bad to worse, I can’t see anything positive about that.”

Greece Bailout Source: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Sunday ‘gone’

Among the measures demanded that would directly affect citizens are lifting a ban on Sunday trading for shops, opening up ownership of pharmacies and opening up closed professions such as ferry transport.

“I think the terms agreed for the bailout are going to make life very hard for all of us,” said Melina Petropoulou, 41, the manager of a women’s clothes shop.

But I agree with the idea of Sunday openings. It’s a measure that will allow those who work all week to have more time to buy our products, which can only help the economy.”

Greece Bailout Source: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Gianna Georgakopoulou, a 43-year-old office manager in a jewellery store, broadly welcomed the bailout deal.

But he added many weren’t happy now they may be forced to open businesses on Sunday.

Everyone thinks we Greeks are lazy but we work hard,” he said. “With Sunday gone, when are we supposed to rest?”

Greece Bailout Source: AP Photo/Petros Karadjias

Hashtag hostility

Others inside the country, and in other EU member states, took to Twitter to express anger at the deal and perceived bullying of Greece by Germany.

A hashtag, #ThisIsACoup, was trending widely in Greece, France, Germany and Britain as they claimed that Greece was effectively being stripped of fiscal sovereignty.

Prominent commentators such as Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist who writes for the New York Times, helped propel the term into the mainstream.

Krugman wrote: “The trending hashtag #ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief.”

READ: Enda glad there’s a deal after a ‘bruising’ all-night session >

READ: Merkel turns the screw as Greece faces intense pressure to accept tough reforms and austerity measures >

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