Perama, Athens, CROATIA – Vassilis Tsimpidis, 52, works as a quality inspector in the shipbuilding industry of Perama, a small village in the region of Piraeus.
For the last two days his life has been all politics. He he has been rushing to Athens, in and out of meetings with the Left Platform, a subgroup within Syriza that is unofficially led by Panagiotis Lafazanis, the Greek minister of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy. Lafazanis, in the last week, has openly voiced his opposition to a deal with the creditors.
“I will follow Lafazanis,”says Tsimpidis, determined while driving his car in the streets of Perama. “We were shocked with this agreement”, he says about Greece’s harsh, last-minute bailout agreement with the European Union.
“I can’t support Tsipras anymore,” Tsimpidis despairs. He says that the Left Platform gathers the majority of the workers from unions that support Syriza. The agreement reached by the Greek Prime Minister this Monday was seen as a betrayal among the workers.
“We are feeling that we lied to the people. We promised no more austerity measures,” says Tsimpidis, who campaigned for a ‘No’ vote in the referendum.
Because of that, Tsimpidis thinks there’s only one option left. “We’re gonna break Syriza,” he says.
After 17 hours of negotiations, the Greek Government agreed to new and tougher austerity measures imposed by the eurozone leaders. This deal avoids the ‘Grexit’ scenario and means that Greeks will get up to 86 billion euros ($95 billion) in a third bailout plan.
On the streets of Athens, Greeks look exhausted after two weeks of closed banks, a referendum and what seemed to be an endless negotiation on the future of their country.
Many refused to talk when asked for their take on the new agreement. They turned their back or looked angry when the agreement was mentioned.
Like Tsimpidis, some feel betrayed by Greek Prime Minister that two weeks ago secured a major victory in a referendum where more than 61% of Greeks voted against new measures. “This is really bad for the Greek people. Tsipras didn’t do what he should after ‘No’ vote”, says Dimitris.
Dimitris: "Tsipras didn't do what he should. We need to change the political system." pic.twitter.com/0ncvy8tbpG
— Catarina F. Martins (@catarinarfgm) July 13, 2015
Katarina actually voted ’No’ because she wanted Greece out of the eurozone. That was her interpretation of the referendum. Now, she feels disappointed.
“I’m with Grexit. I feel betrayed by Tsipras,” she says. Eleni, a young girl standing close to Syntagma square and inviting people into a cosmetic store, takes a stronger stance on the Greek Prime Minister: “Tsipras lied. He should resign and we should say ‘No’ to the new measures”.
Lazaros, a 25 year old, is convinced the new agreement “will not last”. He says people on both sides – the ones who voted ‘Yes’ and the ones who voted ’No’ on the referendum – will be upset. Lazaro thinks Greece desperately needs a haircut while remaining in the eurozone, instead of new austerity measures. What if the measures are imposed, we ask. “I’ll struggle to find a job. I’ll probably go to some other country. All my cousins are in England already,” he says.
Lazaros: "I'll probably go to some other country. All my cousins are in England already." pic.twitter.com/Sa3CVXPRHU
— Catarina F. Martins (@catarinarfgm) July 13, 2015
Georgia, 25, is unemployed after studying Sociology and like Lazaros, she, too, wants to leave Greece to find a better life somewhere else. She says she didn’t lose her sleep last night waiting for the news on the agreement. “I was sure we wouldn’t have news. When they gave us the news I was like: ‘Nothing changes for me’,” she says. Georgia thinks there’s no way the Greek people will be able to “change their future.”
That’s because, she says, “Germany is ruling Greece.” Many share her view, as the popularity of #ThisIsACoup on social media keeps growing.
A little boy sitting in front of her wants to say something. Mario, 14, asks if a journalist was sent by Angela Merkel. And then he swirls his fingers against his head and says: “She’s crazy”.
Betty, 27, a landscape architect who doesn’t know if she’ll keep her job much longer, says she doesn’t care anymore about the agreement. “They’re really stupid. Everyone is so stupid. Germany is being mean. They always want more and more.”
She says she refuses to keep worrying about the situation in Greece: “I just want to be happy with my friends and have my health.”
Not even the fact that the banks will remain closed seem to bother her. “The banks can’t open immediately. It has to be one step at a time. If the banks opened, everyone would take their money. So, it’s normal.”
Among those who think the agreement was the only possible solution to avoid a ‘Grexit,’ most fear for the scope of the austerity measures that will follow.
Like Zoi. “I think Tsipras did the best for our country. The measures will be bad, but we have to do it.” Konstantinos has a similar opinion: “We still don’t know what the measures will be. They’re not saying much. But the temporary Grexit would be a disaster”, he says, referring to Wolfgang Schäuble’s, Germany’s Finance Minister, proposal on Saturday for Greece to leave the eurozone for five years.
Kris, a young boy standing outside the ministery of Finance in Athens, tells Mashable the agreement maybe “harsh,” but “it’s definitely better than Grexit”. Then, he stops talking. “In five months, maybe I have another opinion,” he adds. As he says it, he looks tense.