Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 16:44 UK

Greek austerity: British views

Greece's parliament is due to vote on the hefty cuts and reforms proposed by the government to address the country's financial crisis.

It comes a day after three bank workers died in a petrol bomb attack as demonstrations over the planned austerity measures turned violent.

British expats in Greece have been getting in touch with their views on the situation.

Phil Holden

As a teacher of economics in Athens, I see young people debating heatedly and competently about the consequences of Greece being forced out of the Euro or having to restructure the public debt. There is an admirable sense of engagement with the issues - far more than I am aware of among young people in the UK.

Athens is noticeably different. All pharmacists are closed because they are striking. There are many whitewashed windows with 'for rent' signs in them.

At the weekend we went to visit friends who run a taverna outside Athens in the Peloponnese. On Saturday night there were just three families having a meal. The father who runs the taverna is in bed with depression because of the situation.

Decent businesses which are already established are going to the wall. I know fine tavernas that are on the brink of closing.

People are shocked that it has come to this. The deaths at the bank had a sobering effect on everyone but it will not diminish the anger that people feel.

Everyone is discussing these measures and the broader economic situation Greece finds itself in.

It is going to be tough certainly for the foreseeable

Some people here are on the bread line, desperately close to the edge. I live in a block of flats in a central Athenian district with my wife and children and I constantly hear people in our block asking each other, how they are going to pay for this, what they are going to do, and how are they going to get through this. And this is in an average district.

This measure will be passed in parliament this week but that is not going to make it easier next week. It is going to be tough for the foreseeable future.

The deep-rooted cronyism and corruption that has polluted this terrific country might finally be dealt with

Tourism here will be badly hit not because people are afraid to visit but because they will not want to get caught up in any strikes.

I strongly support the government in its attempts to introduce fiscal discipline. The deep-rooted cronyism and corruption that has polluted this terrific country might finally be dealt with.

The anger that I hear from fellow citizens is not at the severity of the measures being implemented, but rather it is directed at the apparent lack of punishment for those who, through inability or worse, brought Greece to where it is today.


I have recently arrived in Greece from the UK for an extended secondment, but it is already clear to me that these protests are not about the austerity measures but about the arrogance of the political class who will not accept responsibility for the crisis.

If the Greek government wants to defuse the situation then they must undertake to rush through legislation stripping parliamentarians of their immunity from prosecution, and announce a major investigation into corruption with a view to prosecuting the worst offender.

If this is done and the salaries of all MPs are cut by at least 33% then, in my view, the protests will stop and the country will accept the austerity measures because they will feel that the political classes are shouldering their fair share of the pain.


The austerity measures will make Greece a third world country again

I have lived in Greece for four years but we are planning to return to the UK, partly because of the current situation.

Greece has always been a lovely place to live and was initially a cheaper option than moving to somewhere like Spain, but now it has become extremely expensive.

The austerity measures will make Greece a third world country again. The people cannot live on their wages with the cost of living now. The whole population of Greece is under survival threat.

Increasing taxes will cripple them and people won't be able to live.

This is not just a financial issue it is a whole way of life under siege

Greece needs help, but so does the corruption of the system and the culture and mentality of its people. This is not just a financial issue it is a whole way of life under siege.

The day Greece joined the Euro, the price of everything went sky high. I remember the very day they switched from the Drachma to the Euro, the price of milk tripled and since then the cost of living has gone up and up.

We are trying to sell our house in Greece in order to move back to the UK permanently and at the moment it is a worry.

It has been on the market since 2008 with no real interest from UK buyers, but we are hoping there will be some interest from Germans and Bulgarians.


I am married to a Greek and live in both Greece and England.

To say that Greeks are simply protesting against the economic measures is half the story. They believe certain politicians and their cronies have stolen public funds on a huge scale with no retribution.

I hope that Europe and the IMF understand that when pouring money into Greece this time they must check where the money is spent if it isn't to end up in the wrong pockets. Think Africa, Mrs Merkel, not Northern Europe.

There is no social security system in Greece. When people hit hard times they look to their families for help. In an urban dwelling population with food prices higher than those in London there is little help families can now offer.
Sue Giokas, Dorking, UK and Porto Germeno, Greece.

Greek people as a rule believe that they shouldn't pay tax

I have lived in Greece for six years now, and the current situation is of no surprise. Consecutive Greek governments have brought the country to this point. Greece is in my opinion a disgrace to Europe, the country has no working structure, no control and really deserves to be in the current situation.

Greek people as a rule believe that they shouldn't pay tax, insurance or contribute anything to the country. And why should they as the governments are corrupt, inefficient, ineffective, misleading and really in no state to run a country that is part of the EU.

The financial bailout will make no difference as the real problems are not being addressed. Until the EU does its job correctly and physically controls the finances in this country, there will be no change.

Corrupt countries in the EU will continue to drag the Euro downwards until we kick them out. It's like giving your children some money for chocolate, except they go to the shop and spend more then they have, but, it doesn't matter as Mummy and Daddy will bail you out.

Now look at the countries that are in trouble and decide who is to blame, them or the EU for propping them up! I hope to leave this continent in the near future as I fear for the future of my children.
James Pearce, Thessaloniki

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