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Page last updated at 09:30 GMT, Monday, 13 February 2012

Greeks 'have no option but to fight'

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Greece's parliament has passed a controversial package of austerity measures, demanded by the eurozone and IMF in return for a £110bn bailout to avoid default.

Alexandros Papadamos, a young engineer from Athens, described the hardships of ordinary Greek people to the Today programme's John Humphrys.

He said that seeing homeless people on the streets of Athens is an "everyday thing" now and that people are avoiding reading the newspapers because it is "so depressing".

"People are getting poor," said Mr Papadamos, adding that Greek people are being told that if the country goes bankrupt people will get poorer.

However, he did not think this was the solution and predicted that "we will see a lot more anger and rioting" because it was the only way people could express what they were feeling.

He told John Humphrys that he did not see "a light at the end of the tunnel".

Guy Verhofstadt, former prime minister of Belgium and current president of the Alliance of Liberals in the European Parliament, said he understood the anger of the Greek people because the troika decision is "not the ultimate solution".

He maintained that the problem was fundamentally a political one and the two main Greek political parties, Pasok and New Democracy, were not making the right decisions.

Mr Verhofstadt said Greek political parties needed a "radical change" and an election was the only way to allow new parties to emerge and create a "new political landscape".

He believed that the measure of moderating wages and increasing taxes merely put pressure on people who are still in employment in the private sector and said that what was needed was to liberalise the professions, privatise state institutions, and radically change the tax system.

He went on to say that the "origin of the crisis in Greece is not Europe" but rather in the way that Greece is currently run.


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