Some Greeks Wary Of Bailout Deal, Dread Austerity

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European leaders saved Greece from a messy default — and a possible exit from the Eurozone — by finalizing a second bailout, with loans amounting to around $170 million. Greek politicians are celebrating for now, but most Greeks are filled with dread. They fear the new austerity measures will drag out the recession — which is in its fifth year — and continue to push up unemployment, which is already more than 21 percent overall.


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Audie Cornish.

European leaders have once again saved Greece from a messy default and a possible exit from the eurozone. Early today, they finalized Greece's second bailout in two years, with loans worth more than $170 billion. For now, Greek politicians are celebrating but many Greeks aren't. They're worried that new austerity measures will hurt their economy, not heal it. And they wonder what will happen after elections in April.

Joanna Kakissis sent this report from the struggling tourist town of Arachova.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: The Likoria Hotel is a mountain lodge in this central Greek town. The Pervelis family, four sons and their mother, runs the hotel. They cater to skiers who head for nearby mountains of Parnassus. The hotel bar is quiet tonight. There's a couple playing chess and a white-haired man sipping an espresso.

The man is Yiannis Gamvrilis. He's 69 and worked as a mechanic in the U.S. for 15 years before returning home. He spent the last two years following bailout news and has come to one conclusion: the bailout seems to be the only way. Because, if Greece went bankrupt and reverted to the drachma, he says it would be a feast for the people he hates most in Greece: the politicians.

YIANNIS GAMVRILIS: All is crooks. All to steal. I'm working 16 hours a day, seven days a week. And I want to buy shoes and I don't have money. Because all the money, them take it.

KAKISSIS: He says politicians cleaned out public coffers. That's why Greeks are facing all these pension and wage cuts and tax hikes. Elections are coming up in April and Gamvrilis hopes all 300 members of parliament get voted out. He's says he's actually relieved the European Union will be managing the country's finances.

Dimtris Pervelis brings Gamvrilis another espresso. Pervelis agrees that Greek politicians drove the country into the poorhouse. But he says the Greeks who voted for these lawmakers and who lived beyond their means, they're also to blame.

DIMTRIS PERVELIS: It was a party and everybody have a good time. But the party is over and it's time to pay. Because somebody who takes 1,000 euros per month, he want to drive expensive cars. He want to have an expensive house. But he can't pay.

KAKISSIS: He's 27 and many of his peers in Arachova can't find work. Shopkeepers are also suffering because there's been a drop in tourism. His mother, Ioanna, hopes this difficult road might actually mean real reform, like downsizing the bloated public sector and making it easier for businesses to thrive.

IOANNA PERVELIS: (Foreign language spoken)

KAKISSIS: Some people who are having a hard time now used to get by really well, and the rest of us did not, she says. We were taxed so they could live well. Now that coin has flipped. She says she's always paid her taxes. She hopes she and others like her can finally feel good about it.

For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis in Arachova, Greece.

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