May 20, 2010 / 8:55 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX-Greek commentaries on anti-austerity protests

May 20 (Reuters) - Below are editorial comments from Greek newspapers on Thursday as Greek public and private sector labour unions strike against government austerity measures and pension reforms agreed with the EU and IMF to deal with the debt crisis.

ELEFTHEROTYPIA (centre-left)

“In a letter to this newspaper and The Guardian, 29 world renowned labour academics express concerns over what is taking place in Greece and the way the labour movement is by covered by the media: ‘We consider that it is necessary to recognise that labour’s reactions have been brought about by the fact that Greek workers are being asked to pay for a debt they never caused.

“They cite the erroneous way the international community is trying to deal with the problem and underline that market deregulation has led to a rise in economic insecurity and social inequality. They say governments are trying desperately to restore the confidence of institutional investors instead of restoring the confidence of citizens in democracy.

TO VIMA (centre-left)

“Wages and pensions were cut to the point of becoming unfair and taxes were raised so that the state could curb its deficits and secure borrowing, without which state coffers would have to hang up a ‘closed’ sign.

“All those who say there is another way to avert the sinking of the economy are committing a crime: either they know the way out but are hiding it from us or they are making it up without shame. Despite the precedent of Argentina, they present the absolutely destructive idea of debt restructuring as the solution.

“Those claiming the problem will be solved if people who stole from the state end up paying are trying to fool us. Yes, some did steal, perhaps a lot, and should be punished. But in aggregate, this is peanuts compared to broad-based tax evasion. And you don’t put an entire people in jail. You change the values.”

ELEFTHEROS TYPOS (right)

“From its beginning, this government has been talking a lot and doing little. This is also the case with its war against tax evasion. We are tired of listening to the preaching of the prime minister and the finance minister, which unfortunately are not confirmed by actions.”

KATHIMERINI (centre-right)

“It is natural for ministers not wanting to assume the political costs of necessary reforms which are included in the package voted by parliament. This is what brought us to where we are today. It is the result of politicians postponing for tomorrow everything that would cost them politically today.

“However, today their decisions do not only concern their own future but also the future of the country and our children. It is their right to want to be liked by social groups that became their clientele. It is the prime minister’s responsibility though to explain that the fairy tale of political cost is over; that if they do not assume the responsibility, the country will face default.”

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos

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