TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Steve Chiotakis: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou likened his nation to a sinking ship today. He formally asked for an international lifeline — his country is mired in debt. And now Greece is poised to take a bailout from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund — a $50 billion aid package. Reporter Joanna Kakissis joins us now live from Athens with the latest. Hi Joanna.
Joanna Kakissis: Hi Steve.
Chiotakis: What’s the sentiment on the ground in Athens right now?
Kakissis: Well Greeks are astonished and sad at today’s news. But many, like Thanassis Anagnostopoulos, who’s like a a 28-year-old shopkeeper in Athens, said there’s no other way out of the financial crisis.
Thanassis Anagnostopoulos: Bad, bad situation, but we can’t do anything else about it right now. We just have to take the money and find a way to give it back, because we have taken so much as a country.
Chiotakis: Joanna, why did the situation get so bad in Greece that it had to ask for a bailout?
Kakissis: Well everything they tried didn’t calm markets and bring down borrowing rates. So basically the country doesn’t have money to pay its debts. So it needs to raise 10 billion euros by May or else it defaults. And the European Commission showed Greece’s 2009 public deficit is now at 13.6 percent of GDP — that’s really high.
Chiotakis: Yeah it is, and I know Greece has made some big cuts this year trying to get that down, are more on the way?
Kakissis: Yes, more are on the way, most likely. There’s been some talk that the bailout may depend on further spending cuts, slashing wages and pensions. And the average Greek, you know, only makes about 700 euros. So cutting pensions is going to anger a lot of the Greek population, which is older.
Chiotakis: How do you think Greek will respond? I mean obviously angry, but how else?
Kakissis: Well they know their country is in serious trouble and they appreciate the government efforts, but I expect more strikes and more demonstrations in the near future. Another thing I expect is continued resentment of Germany, who, you know, they’re not happy with the bailout, and Greeks believe all Europeans are in this together.
Chiotakis: And I know the Greek finance minister is in Washington, right, this weekend?
Kakissis: Yes, he’s traveling to Washington tonight for the IMF meeting tomorrow.
Chiotakis: Joanna Kakissis joining us live from Athens. Joanna, thanks.
Kakissis: Thank you!
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