Jul 13, 2015
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Greeks see 'humiliation' in harsh terms of eurozone bailout

Jul 13, 2015

Greeks were bracing Monday for the effects of the tough terms of an agreement that secured the country's third bailout in five years, with many rejecting them while others said they were necessary to stay in the euro.

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

Davaris Textiles, a Grrek womenswear textile company that trades in the European market. - Davaris Textiles

Katerina Katsaba, a 52-year-old working for a pharmaceutical company, said: "I am not in favour of this deal. I know they (the eurozone creditors) are trying to blackmail us."

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 euros ($96 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.

- 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, who owns a dating service business.

"I would have preferred something else to happen, such as Grexit, where we would have starved in the beginning but dealt with it ourselves," the 35-year-old said.

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."

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. 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," said Melina Petropoulou, 41, the manager of a women's clothes shop.

Gianna Georgakopoulou, a 43-year-old office manager in a jewellery store, broadly welcomed the bailout deal, but said: "We may have no choice but to open every Sunday, but that's not going to mean we'll be happy about it. Everyone thinks we Greeks are lazy but we work hard. With Sunday gone, when are we supposed to rest?"

- 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.

"Germany is destroying Europe once again," tweeted @KostasKainakis, whose profile says he is a marketing lecturer in Athens.

"The Germans could not do it with tanks so now they try it with banks Trying to STEAL Greek assets BrITS MUST vote to get out," opined a tweet from Britain by @AllanSkerratt, who said he was a non-partisan retired soldier and ex-teacher.

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."

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