Most Greeks accept austerity program: professor

19:17, June 02, 2010      

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Despite market concerns about the ability of Greece to cut its record high public deficit as planned, most Greeks accept a government austerity program as the only way to solve the crisis, an expert says.

"Greeks are aware that this is a very critical point for the country and most of them realize that there is no other way than to adapt to the new situation," Alexandra Koutoglidou, professor of international investment and trade dispute resolution at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Brussels, said during a recent interview with Xinhua.

EU leaders agreed to activate a 110-billion-euro (135-billion-U.S.-dollar) rescue package to debt-laden Greece on May 2, while Athens in turn promised to slash its budget deficit to the EU limit of three percent of GDP by 2014 from 13.6 percent last year.

However, the government proposal met with strong opposition from civil servants and trade unions, raising market concerns about the country's ability to implement the austerity plan.

Koutoglidou said this was not the first time that Greeks have been asked to make sacrifices to boost the national economy. At the beginning of the 1990s, Greece was called on to reduce its public deficit from 12 percent to less than 3 percent of GDP in order to become a member of the eurozone.

And according to the most recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) statistics, Greeks work an average 2,120 hours per year, a fact that classifies Greeks as the second hardest working people after the South Koreans, she said.

Although the average Greek is justified to feel he is being treated unfairly, most accept the austerity plan as the only way out, Koutoglidou said.

"A significant percentage of Greeks trusts that close surveillance of implementation of the measures by the EU and the International Monetary Fund will guarantee their effectiveness, driving the country out of the crisis," the professor said.


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(Editor:燕勐)

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