Will Greece stay in the eurozone? Citizens voted in the bailout deal.
The Greek debt crisis turned sharply this weekend. The country abruptly halted talks with eurozone creditors, who insist on more austerity in exchange for rescue loans. The government turned almost hopelessly to the people. Parliament voted last night to hold a referendum on the country’s economic future on July 5. But Greece’s current rescue plan ends on Tuesday and will put Greece in default. The benefits of all this – whether or not Greece can maintain a part of the euro zone in 19 countries. Joanna Kakissis has the story of our Athens.
JOANNA KAKISSIS wired: the lines on the ATM machine are long, and the nervous people want to know if they have cash. Wid Yiannis Trouptsios, 87, asked if people knew how to use the machine. He usually goes to the bank, but he worries that the bank won’t open on Monday.
YIANNIS TROUPTSIOS :(through translator) our politicians say, don’t panic. Don’t take money out of the bank. And then I saw them on TV and they took money from the atms in parliament. I don’t know what to say.
KAKISSIS: Trouptsios, a retired accountant, has lost half his pension in the past five years. He was puzzled by the referendum, and what would happen if he did not oppose bailouts and austerity.
TROUPTSIOS :(through translator) I hope we won’t be kicked out of the euro. It’s just about the economy. We’ll be quarantined. We are surrounded by countries like Turkey and Albania, not friendly countries. What would happen if we were cut off from Europe?
KAKISSIS: 35-year-old civil engineer Dimitris Kostoulas waits for his wife at an ATM.
Have you been to many automated teller machines today?
Kassisi: prime minister Alexis tsipras is making tough choices for voters when he announces his referendum, Kostoulas said.
Kostulus: the political cost is what he doesn’t want. I think it’s obvious.
CLEOPATRA PAPPAS :(through translator) honestly, I’m tired of being stressed. For five years, we were worried that we would go bankrupt. It didn’t happen, but we waited.
KAKISSIS: the couple did half the work five years ago. Pappas says she is defaulting on her Greece and returning to her former currency, the drachma.
PAPPAS :(through translator) I don’t want it to happen, because I think of drachma. Very simply, I can’t live in the eurozone, and in fact, there is nothing in this eurozone.
Unidentified politician :(using a foreign language).
Kiksi: as the greeks feared, their politicians were screaming at each other in parliament. The conservatives went out after a battle with the left-wing parliament speaker who is now running Greece. Prime minister Alexis tsipras told voters to reject any pension cuts and tax increases.
PRIME MINISTER ALEXIS TSIPRAS.
“Many people ask what will happen after the referendum,” he told parliament. What is clear is that we will have a stronger negotiating position. But this could be the opposite of the eurozone. Some leaders say Greece has closed the door to negotiations.
Dimitris Zografos said in his empty pastry shop that he was avoiding the news. It’s very frustrating. He wants to stay in the eurozone, but it is hard to see how Greece can do that.
DIMITRIS ZOGRAFOS :(speaking Greek)
“The only thing I understand is that Greece cannot speak to each other in the eurozone,” he said. “We are right, they are right, but each side lives in their own world.” For NPR news, I’m Joanna Kakissis in Athens.