During The Holidays, Greeks Discuss Country's Future

The scene is a family dinner party in Athens, where Greeks discuss the future of their country, the Germans and whether Greece should remain in the eurozone.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

And I'm Lynn Neary.

Now to a scene of heated debate about the financial crisis in Europe, at a dinner table. It's in Athens, Greece, where the European crisis is raising questions about whether to abandon the euro currency.

Here's Chana Joffe-Walt with our Planet Money team.

CHANA JOFFE-WALT, BYLINE: Meet your host, Katherina Margaritou, charming, smiley. She's a Greek chemist with wild curls and this is her apartment she shares with Elias Tiligadas.

KATHERINA MARGARITOU: Elias is my boyfriend.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ELIAS TILIGADAS: Boyfriend.

MARGARITOU: Boyfriend.

JOFFE-WALT: There are a couple of other people over for dinner, but really, you just have to know these two. And their schtick as a couple seems to be to disagree as performance. Elias will say something and Katherina will go...

MARGARITOU: Anyway, I don't agree with him.

JOFFE-WALT: And vice versa. The conversation tonight is all about the European financial crisis, beginning with the people who seem to be in charge of Europe's destiny these days, Germans.

MARGARITOU: I like them. They are good people. They...

TILIGADAS: (Unintelligible) gave them about a billion dollars with...

JOFFE-WALT: Elias is mumbling something here about Germans owing Greeks for World War II. Katherina waves him off.

MARGARITOU: This is not the point now. They are good people. They are here every summer.

TILIGADAS: With socks and sandals.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MARGARITOU: They have a very good sense of humor, Germans. I like them.

JOFFE-WALT: But, Katherina adds, they are not without blame for the current situation. Germans act like they joined the euro as a favor to us, she says. They got something out of it, too.

MARGARITOU: Here in Greece, everything is German. The electronical equipment here in Greece is - and the cars, it's German. They found an easy way for us to buy their product.

JOFFE-WALT: And you did?

MARGARITOU: Yes, we did.

TILIGADAS: No, I didn't.

MARGARITOU: It's lovely to buy, I think.

TILIGADAS: They built their economy in order to produce things and sell them to the rest of us. That's their fault and we're paying for it.

MARGARITOU: We can share the fault, I think.

JOFFE-WALT: Katherina says Greece messed up, borrowed more than it could afford. But it's no longer about fault. We're all in trouble now, she says. The question is what to do about it.

MARGARITOU: (Foreign language spoken)

JOFFE-WALT: Leave the euro, one guest calls out. Actually, go all the way. Leave the European Union altogether. Elias agrees.

TILIGADAS: In three months, we're getting back to drachma-like currency.

MARGARITOU: No, no, no, no. I don't agree with him. I want to be in the European Union, but I don't know if I want to be in euro anymore.

JOFFE-WALT: Why do you want to be in the European Union?

MARGARITOU: Well, it's easy to travel. I like this whole European family. We have exchanged ideas and cultures all these years being together. I don't want to leave them. It's my family now, but I don't like their currency.

TILIGADAS: (Unintelligible) in Greece. We've got...

JOFFE-WALT: As you can probably hear, Elias does not agree. And, of course, that's the problem with families. The members don't always agree, but they're bound together by history, money, emotions and the costs of leaving the family behind are often very high.

Chana Joffe-Walt, NPR News.

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