Steve Chiotakis: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou
announced there’ll be a vote on the country’s economic austerity package, which could affect a deal that would both help Greece and tackle the European debt crisis.
Constantine Michalos is chairman of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He’s with us now with reaction from Athens. Hi Constantine.
Constantine Michalos: Good morning, Steve.
Chiotakis: Were you shocked by Greek Prime Minister Papandreou’s surprise announcement?
Michalos: Well absolutely. The prime minister caused a tectonic earthquake tremor during last night’s parliamentary speech when he announced that he intends to hold a referendum on the latest European Union aid package intended to resolve the country’s debt crisis.
Chiotakis: How will the Greek vote on this measure?
Michalos: This is the reason why I’m referring to political schizophrenia — because what’s the point of a vote of confidence later on this week when he runs the risk of the people reversing the E.U. decision just a few weeks later? We’ve seen the polls, the recent polls, say approximately 65 percent of the people that were being polled are against the decision.
Chiotakis: These are people that are most affected by the austerity package, though — right?
Chiotakis: I mean, many people in Greece are Greek government workers.
Michalos: Well, yes — but when you have a poll you have a representative sample from all fractions of society, of course including public servants. But I can assure you that these austerity measures, without having any stimulus, any growth perspective in the Greek economy — then I’m afraid there is an overall spectrum of Greek society that will vote against these measures.
Chiotakis: What is at stake, Constantine, to global economy? And even here in the U.S.?
Michalos: To be quite honest, it is highly debatable whether it’s constitutionally justified and permissible to call for a referendum under Article 44 of the Greek Constitution, which clearly forbids such dilemmas and issues of fiscal regulation.
I think that this is — we have a government which is clinging on to its ministerial armchairs at all costs. And it is evident that they’re operating in a highly sensitive danger zone — not just for the Greek economy, but for the European economy and for the global economy at large.
Chiotakis: Constantine Michalos from the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Thank you so much, sir.
Michalos: Thank you very much Steve.
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