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Greece: five years of bailout blues

Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 01:56

April 23, 2010 marks the day Greece announced it would be asking EU and IMF lenders for an international bailout. Five years on, the country's economy is still in crisis. Sonia Legg asks why it's been going on so long.

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It's the start of summer in Greece and time to draw a line under the euro zone crisis. There've been plenty of attempts at those since Athens first requested an EU bailout five years ago. But they've all been drawn in sand - much like this week's meeting of European finance ministers in Riga. CIBC's Jeremy Stretch. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIBC, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, JEREMY STRETCH, SAYING: "I think we are still indulging in a relatively high stakes game of poker here between the Brussels group, formerly know as the troika, and Athens. And I think the eurogroup meeting this week will pass by but the subsequent one in mid-May could be the real trigger point." For many Greeks the five years of austerity has brought nothing but pain. One in five now live in poverty and one in four workers are unemployed. Greek officials say they have enough money to pay government bills until June. But they still haven't come up with an EU-convincing reform plan. And Germany's Chancellor has again urged Athens to move faster. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) ATHENS RESIDENT, DAFNI GEORGIOPOULOU, AGED 64, SAYING: "We are not having a good life, not good at all. And we cannot do anything about this. Those who are in power must find a solution for the Greek people." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PENSIONER, SOTIRIS PRENTZAS, AGED 60, SAYING: "Things are very difficult for the Greek people. The responsibility for this lies with everyone, those that govern, the people and the Europeans." So should Greece have left the euro zone five years ago? (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIBC, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, JEREMY STRETCH, SAYING: "I think if we looked at the process again I think the euro zone may have taken a rather different stance back in 2010, but at that time they deemed it important to maintain Greece within the system almost at any price." Political uncertainly across Europe is the real legacy, says Stretch. Combine that with a smaller euro zone economy and a much bigger unemployment problem and there's plenty of evidence to suggest the five years haven't been kind to Greece or its partners.

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Greece: five years of bailout blues

Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 01:56