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Greeks 'humiliated' by bailout, cry 'hands off the Acropolis'
A woman walks across the Acropolis hill in downtown Athens on July 8, 2015. Greece's government on July 8 sharply denied a newspaper report that it was readying IOUs to pay public service pensions and salaries as the country's euro cash dries up. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO.

By: Ella Ide and Will Vassilopoulos


ATHENS (AFP).- Greeks were rattled Monday by news the nation's jewels might be snatched as collateral as part of a bailout deal slammed as 'humiliating'.

"We avoided an exit from the eurozone," said sharply-dressed retired businessman Michaelis Sarides, as he sipped a coffee at a bar in central Athens.

"But I warn you, if they take the Acropolis from us, it's war," he said darkly.

The outline deal thrashed out between the 19 eurozone nations in strained overnight talks calls for Greece to push through a range of reforms to secure a bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($96 billion).

Without it, the country's economy will collapse and Greece could crash out of the eurozone.

But among the key measures Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will have to rush through parliament is the creation of a controversial debt repayment fund, which aims to raise 50 billion euros ($55 billion) by selling off valuable Greek assets.

"They can't take a part of the country," said an aghast Lefteris Paboulidis, who owns a dating service business.

"Has that happened anywhere else so it can happen here? The situation is dramatic."

Like many ordinary Greeks, he was sceptical that the deal would bring about any improvement to their lives.

Worse for years to come 
"It would be better not to have a deal than the way it was done because it will certainly be worse for the years to follow," the 35-year old said.

"I would have preferred something else to happen, such as Grexit, where we would have starved in the beginning but dealt with it ourselves." 

Ilias, a 26-year-old civil servant, insisted that "the important thing is for the country to be better off -- not so much if we stay in Europe or not, that is the last thing to think of."

"If we stay in Europe and the country goes from bad to worse, I can't see anything positive about that," he said.

Haralambos Rouliskos, a 60-year-old economist, described the agreement with Greece's eurozone partners as "misery, humiliation and slavery".

His feelings were echoed by Katerina Katsaba, a 52-year-old working for a pharmaceutical company, who said: "I am not in favour of this deal. I know they (the eurozone creditors) are trying to blackmail us."

But despite belief in many quarters that radical left PM Alexis Tsipras has been taken to the cleaners by Europe, she added: "I trust our prime minister -- the decisions he will take will be in the best interests of all of us."

Among the measures demanded that would directly affect citizens are lifting a ban on Sunday trading for shops, opening up ownership of pharmacies and opening up closed professions such as ferry transport.

"I think the terms agreed for the bailout are going to make life very hard for all of us. But I agree with the idea of Sunday openings... it can only help the economy," said Melina Petropoulou, 41, the manager of a women's clothes shop.

But in an upmarket jewellery store across the street, office manager Gianna Georgakopoulou, 43, protested that "everyone thinks we Greeks are lazy but we work hard. With Sunday gone, when are we supposed to rest?"

Hashtag hostility 
Others inside the country, and in other EU member states, took to Twitter to express anger at the deal and perceived bullying of Greece by Germany.

A hashtag, #ThisIsACoup, was trending widely in Greece, France, Germany and Britain as they claimed that Greece was effectively being stripped of fiscal sovereignty.

"Germany is destroying Europe once again," tweeted @KostasKainakis, whose profile says he is a marketing lecturer in Athens.

"The Germans could not do it with tanks so now they try it with banks Trying to STEAL Greek assets BrITS MUST vote to get out," opined a tweet from Britain by @AllanSkerratt, who said he was a non-partisan retired soldier and ex-teacher.

Prominent commentators such as Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist who writes for the New York Times, helped propel the term into the mainstream.

Krugman wrote: "The trending hashtag #ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief."



© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse





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