Some Greeks Fear Exiting The Eurozone

The Greek people are watching events in parliament with a mixture of horror and fear: Many are afraid the debt crisis is spinning out of control. Despite their deep resentment of the austerity policies they have suffered through for two years, most Greeks also fear that they might be forced out of the eurozone — and into a dark economic future.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Reporter Joanna Kakissis is also in Athens. And she hit the streets of the capital for us to find out how Greeks have been reacting to all the drama.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking foreign language)

JOANNA KAKISSIS: Hundreds of Communist Party supporters are gathering outside parliament to hear their leader speaking to them through a megaphone. The crowd is waving red flags and riot police are watching them in case of violence. This is what most outsiders associate with Greece: the slogans, the megaphones, the demonstrations against the plutocracy that they blame for robbing the country.

But now, the silent majority, the people who never took to the streets, are the ones who have really soured on Prime Minister George Papandreou.

ANTONIS AZVESTUS: (Foreign language spoken).

KAKISSIS: Antonis Azvestus(ph) is 45 years old and has three children. He runs a small dessert shop and is selling a customer fresh baklava.

AZVESTUS: (Through Translator) There's this sense of insecurity for ourselves, for our children, our future, even our property, and there's going to be insecurity for many years. Our politicians don't give any sense of stability and give us no sense of what tomorrow is going to bring, so it's good that Papandreou is leaving. I think some kind of unity coalition government is the only way to go forward.

KAKISSIS: Alexander Stetiatis(ph) is selling a bottle of wine to a customer. He's 35 and has a degree in philosophy, but this job in a wine shop in central Athens is the only employment he can find. He blames Andreas Papandreou, the former prime minister and the father of the current one, for widespread corruption and the inefficiency of the current system.

ALEXANDER STETIATIS: And all this anxiety, stress is taking a toll on everyone's life. I think we're going to default. Yeah. I think we're going to default big time. I mean, what's happening now is the (unintelligible) of 35 years of stupid choices by the people and Papandreou is the one that started it and Papandreou is the one that is closing down the party.


KAKISSIS: Katrina Petrucci(ph) is working a shift at a small book store specializing in English titles. The store is struggling and may have to close soon, which means Katrina losing her job. Speaking over the store's stereo system, she wonders what will happen after Papandreou leaves.

KATRINA PETRUCCI: I mean, it's not going to be some huge riot and every politician is going to apologize. Some will resign, some won't. Basically, we'll just keep going the same way that we went unless they do kick us out of the European Union.

KAKISSIS: Are you scared of that?

PETRUCCI: I wouldn't like that to happen. No. I think that is the worst possible result that can happen. I think that will take us 10 steps back and (unintelligible).

KAKISSIS: Like many young people here, she dreams of leaving Greece, but if her country is shut out of the European family, she worries if anyone will take her. For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis in Athens.

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