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Public servants march in central Athens, Greece, during a demonstration marking the 24-hours strike in public sector -- Feb. 10, 2010. - 


Steve Chiotakis: Street protests are going on today in Athens as public workers decry Greece's new austerity measures, including retirement benefit changes aimed at shrinking its big budget deficit. The country is in jeopardy of defaulting, and there are reports today that Germany and France may come to its rescue. We're gonna bring in the business editor of the Web site Protothema.gr, Sotos Chiotakis. In English, his name is the same as mine -- Steve Chiotakis. He happens to be my cousin. Hi Sotos.

Sotos Chiotakis: Good morning from Athens, rainy Athens today.

Steve: How did Greece get here in the first place? Give us a little history.

Sotos: OK: Greece history, it's losing investments, many foreign companies went out of the country because of the lack of competitiveness in Greek ecnomy. Increasing salary that weren't corresponding to the increasing of the productivity in Greek economy. And also giving many early retirements during the past years. And I have to mention also that the Olympic Games of 2004, Steve, cost us a lot, cost us much more than it was predicted. We had a budget with, on $4 billion, and they cost at least $15 billion, Steve.

Steve: Sotos, do you think there will be transparency in the government going forward?

Sotos: They had to, they had to. I mean, one of the new measures that government will announce is going to do with the transparency in the public sector and all the businesses that companies are doing with the public sector. That's a big problem in Greece for many years now.

Steve: What are the average Greek citizens saying about this issue? Are they concerned about this debt? Are they concerned about the world being concerned about this debt?

Sotos: Well, they have started to concern, Steve, about this debt, I mean, but the bigger question now is an increase in taxes, that's the big concern of Greek citizens. I mean we had an increase in the . . . taxes, it was 12 percent in one day in the fuel, in the unlimited gas oil. So that is giving us inflation prices in the economy which is still in the recession.

Steve: All right. Sotos Chiotakis, the business editor of the Web site Protothema.gr, linked to one of the biggest papers in Greece. Sotos, thank you so much.

Sotos: Thank you very much, Steve.