Concerns over the abysmal state of the Greek economy are mounting across Europe. Meanwhile, the Greeks themselves are worried about the daily cost of life - or why, when they earn less than 1,000 euros per month, the price of a pint is the same as in the UK and France.
The health of the Greek economy is at the top of the euro zone's concern list after ratings agencies downgraded government debt bonds at the start of the week. At the beginning of this year, public deficit in the country was estimated at 6%, whereas today, it lies at 12.7% - a debt that amounts to 113% of the country's GDP this year.
The government is left with an almost impossible mission - relaunching a dodgy economy while at the same time dealing with an enormous youth unemployment problem, all the time cutting spending. Not only that, but they have to face the criticism of the public - who have been involved in some of the most violent protests Greece has seen in recent history.
Do you live in Greece? Give your opinion.
“Prices are not far from those in the UK, but here people earn less than 1,000 euros a month”
Craig Wherlock is a British expat living in Thessaloniki. He teaches at a private school. He went to today's demonstration and sent us these photos. His blog.
On the left, the logo on the shield represents the ND (New Democracy), the party in power during last year's riots. On the right, the logo of the PASOK, the party currently in power.
People are angry because the cost of living is far too high. A beer in a bar costs four euros, a basic meal in a restaurant 20 euros, a one bedroom flat in the capital 400 euros a month. These prices are not far from those in the UK. But here, most people earn less than 1,000 euros a month. A language teacher in a state school earns, at most, €1,300 a month. As for the rate of unemployment; a lot of people think it's much higher than what the government says.
The schooling system is going very badly. You have to take extra classes in the evening if you want to get anywhere. You can't rely on mandatory education. From infant school to university, the quality of state schooling here is terribly poor (save for a few prestigious universities, but they're very difficult to get into), and it will no doubt get even worse if the government makes spending cuts."
“A number of my friends can't find a job and those who have one are very badly paid”
Vaggelis Gettos is a radio journalist from Athens.
The main problem is youth unemployment, which is stifling the country. A number of my friends can't find a job and those who have one are very badly paid. The ‘700-euro generation' still exists among those who have a university degree [700 euros refers to the monthly minimum wage in Greece]. Personally I was paid only 400 euros a month the first two years after I finished uni - which is actually illegal. I now earn 900 euros a month, and I consider myself fortunate compared with my friends.
The size of the state deficits are worrying, but they come as no surprise. This financial calamity is just one part of a serious social crisis sweeping the country."