Following years of austerity measures, the EU debt controls have now come to and end in Greece. The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has labelled it as a “day of liberation”, adding that “Ithaca will once again be identified with the end of a modern day Odyssey”. The spending controls were put in place to tackle Greece’s high debt and fragile economy. The measures saw unemployment soar to 28%, a third of the population fall into poverty, the economy shrink, and many Greek’s choosing to leave the country altogether.
In a speech, the prime minister said: “This is a day of liberation. We will not commit the affront of ignoring the lessons of the bailout on Greece. We will not let oblivion mislead us. We will never forget the cause, or the people who led our country into bailouts. Ithaca will once again be identified with the end of a modern day Odyssey Three-and-a-half years ago our people took a historic decision. To take the helm away from those who led it to the rocks, and to give it to new captains.”
The party was elected in 2015, and after being unable to negotiate new terms with the European Union for the bailout, has been responsible for imposing the strict measures. Greek voters supported the bailouts in a referendum. The alternative was for Greece to leave the eurozone. Greece has saved 24 billion euros throughout the austerity, which has been achieved through high taxation. The country has taken more in tax than it has spent, with the only exception being the huge interest payments to its creditors.
But, despite the austerity coming to an end, this isn’t the end of the road as Greece prepares for decades of surpluses as the EU won’t consider any significant debt relief. Centre-right New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “The symbolism of Ithaca is false,” “We have not reached the end of the journey. Today is the end of cheap financing, but the tough measures and heavy commitments signed by Mr Tsipras will continue.”
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