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'Catastrophic Effect': More Austerity Measures Could Force Greece to Exit the EU

© Flickr / Jubilee Debt CampaignGreec debt
Greec debt - Sputnik International
The Greek government has just three weeks to secure a deal with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to avoid the possibility of a Greek exit from the EU and a fresh debt crisis. Radio Sputnik discussed this with Dr. Marina Prentoulis, a senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia.

When asked whether there was any chance of a compromise that would appease both creditors and Greece, Marina Prentoulis said that the situation hasn’t changed since the first round of negotiations.

“There are different political forces involved and the creditors insist on the implementation of additional austerity measures. One thing the IMF doesn’t want to understand is that these measures have already had a catastrophic effect on Greece and also on the future of the European Union,” she noted.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Greek government is taking advantage of the political instability in the EU to secure a better deal for itself, knowing that if the country enters another debt crisis it could destabilize the already fragile EU.

A farmer carries a Greek flag in front of the parliament during a protest against planned pension reforms in Athens, Greece February 12, 2016. - Sputnik International
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“I believe that it [could destabilize] not only the Greek government, but the whole European Union. I don’t think that anyone wants another crisis.The situation in the EU is critical, we see the emergence of nationalistic and extreme rightwing forces. I don’t think that another crisis would help anybody, and this is something the creditors refuse to understand.”

When asked if major civil unrest in Greece could open the way for extreme political parties, both left and right, to potentially secure power if voters lose faith in the existing political establishment, Dr. Prentoulis said that the winning parties now are extreme rightwing ones and that people, should not underestimate the danger posed by these parties.

“Greece is under austerity measures now and has to protect its most vulnerable people. No one has an appetite for more austerity, which would be catastrophic for Greece. The EU has for many years promoted a neoliberal policy and we have seen the catastrophic effect this policy has had on Greece but also on the unity of the EU."

“What Greece really needs is less austerity and more debt relief,” she emphasized.

Speaking about the consequence the IMF’s reported intention not to participate in the bailout program could have on Greece and the entire Eurozone, Marina Prentoulis mentioned the disagreement on this issue between the IMF and the European institutions and said that the European institutions will have to take political decisions if the IMF opts out of the bailout program.

There is a lot of speculation that a fresh debt crisis could lead to more calls for Greece to leave the Eurozone and even the European Union itself.

Thousand of demonstrators gather outside Greece's parliament to express their support for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' anti-austerity stance during negotiations over the country's debt. - Sputnik International
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“I don’t think that anybody wants Greece to leave the EU, especially after the discussions we have seen in Britain. I think the Greek people don’t want to leave the Eurozone and the EU, but we have to admit that the Eurozone has serious structural problems. I think that Greece will try to remain in the EU,” Dr. Prentoulis observed

She added that bilateral deals Britain now wants to have with the US will be catastrophic for the UK. She described US President Donald Trump as a “demagogue who believes he is in a position to bypass international law.”

“All these divisions have created serious problems for the EU and I think that Brexit will create a lot of problems for Britain, so we have to transform the European Union, we have to think about the people of Europe and we have to go on working for their benefit,” Dr. Marina Prentoulis said in conclusion.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is faced with a dilemma to either hold fresh elections or agree to additional austerity measures, with both options likely to end his party’s time in power.

The Greek debt crisis erupted in 2010 with a number of austerity packages adopted by the parliament and several bailout payments provided by the

European Commission, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The loans, however, only resulted in increasing the country’s debt.

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