German chancellor Angela Merkel spent about six hours in Greece earlier today — and then flew home. Merkel’s not exactly a popular figure in that country since she’s pushed for painful economic reforms in the country mired in deficit. She assured the Greek people today that those reforms will pay off. But Merkel’s “charm offensive” didn’t assuage tens of thousands of Greeks who responded to her visit today with massive street protests across the city.
John Psaropoulos is a blogger at TheNewAthenian.com. Of the protests, he says many Greeks were in the streets because they are genuinely frustrated with the rounds of austerity measures that have chipped away at the middle class in that country. But others were organized along ideological lines — namely the anti-banker, anti-Wall Street types we saw in the United States.
But for some Greeks, especially the youth, frustration has given way to apathy, in a market where unemployment for young people is at 54 percent.
“They tend to sit on stoops in front of houses,” says Psaropoulos. “They clearly have nothing to do all day and they sit there well into the night drinking sodas and beers. And you know, there’s a reason it’s called a depression. People are depressed.”
But, says Psaropoulos, many Greeks are still finding ways to socialize with friends and “making merry” to forget about their economic woes.