Greek Government To Unveil Austerity Package Greece is preparing to announce a new package of austerity measures to secure billions of dollars in aid from Europe to save it from default. Greece's debt crisis threatens to drag Europe into a wider financial crisis. The measures are expected to include sharp salary cuts and new taxes on a population already reeling from the biggest financial crisis in its history.
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Greek Government To Unveil Austerity Package

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Greek Government To Unveil Austerity Package

Greek Government To Unveil Austerity Package

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Athens.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: The mood is one of anxious expectation as the country waits for news of an international bailout. Like many people here, pharmacist Giorgos Pogas feels resentment against Greece's European partners.

GIORGOS POGAS: (Through translator) We need help right now. And I want the help, but I don't want it to be something that's predatory, which is what I feel the conditions are right now. You know, we're one family, and as a family we should be dealing with each other more fairly.

POGGIOLI: But overall, Greeks seem resigned - despite their history of strong unions and massive demonstrations, that sometimes lead to violence.

ALEXIS PAPAHELAS: We've all been surprised, because there hasn't been such, you know, outpour of protests and anger and all this. And that is because I think people were terrified and people, you know, sort of realized for first time in our history, that we're going to be bankrupt. So, you know, everybody is scared and is waiting for the captain and the crew to see where, you know, they'll take the boat.

POGGIOLI: Alexis Papahelas is editor of the influential newspaper Kathimerini. He doesn't think this mood of resignation will last for long.

PAPAHELAS: When the fall comes and, you know, the recession is going to be, you know, fairly severe and when people are going to feel in their pockets, you know, the difference that all these measures will make. There is going to be quite a bit of unrest. I think people are getting very angry with their politicians for getting them, you know, where we are now.

POGGIOLI: Editor Papahelas says these drastic measures should finally convince Germany to give the green light to a long-delayed European bailout package. And if that's not enough, he says, Greece got an extra boost from President Obama, who called German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

PAPAHELAS: It was good that President Obama called. In my opinion, he realized that, you know, Greece could potentially become the Lehman Brothers of the sovereign debt issue, and create a number of crashes in the world banking system. And he advised, you know, Chancellor Merkel to actually speed up on this, because she was so caught up, in my opinion, of local politics, that she missed the big picture.

POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Athens.

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