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The Crisis, The Junta and Why Greeks Are On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

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    “What we really need is a junta. Nothing is going to change otherwise. During the junta we didn’t have any debts. What’s the difference? we are under a German dictatorship anyways.”

    This is a statement of twenty-one year old engineering student Nikos. Nikos isn’t the only twenty-something Greek who thinks that Greece needs a junta to get out of the deadlock. Walking around Athens, at coffee shops, in universities, at taverns, you hear that a lot.

    More and more people believe that Greece needs a drastic change or things are going to get worse and worse as more austerity measures are being voted for the precious bailout packages. Frustration, depression and anger have led Greeks to believe that even a coup would be more effective than this austerity policy. Whether they really believe that a junta would be the solution to Greece’s problems, or if it’s the frustration speaking, is unclear. Yet it is disturbing listening to young people even if they don’t really mean that the only way Greece can be saved is a coup.

    Ironically, this generation of Greeks has never lived under a real junta. Yet those who have lived under a real dictatorship, have a different opinion.

    “I hear young people saying that they live in junta right now and I realize how little they know about it. Do they really realize that in a dictatorship, you are not allowed to express your opinion? Do they realize that if you swear at the state next thing you know, you are in a prison or in exile? These kids don’t realize that in a junta, if you throw yogurt at a governing official or swear at him, instead of having others cheering you for what you did, you will end up at the police station. Torture, detention cells, and exile, that’s a junta’s daily routine. And you don’t even get to have lawyer. Because the state is there to ‘protect’ you no matter how much money you have. You are not even allowed to walk on the street outside the boundaries the junta defines. Do the Greek youth realize what they are saying? I highly doubt it. This generation of Greeks hasn’t gone through hardships like the previous ones. I’m fed up listening to thirty year-olds drinking their frappe, all dizzy and relaxed under the sun that Greece needs a junta,” say Dimitris K., a professor from the university of Crete who had an active role in the fight against the Regime of the Colonels (1967–1974) but wishes to remain anonymous.

    Angry and Trapped  

    Not many Greeks believe there’s really going to be a dictatorship anytime soon. Yet anyone who lives in Greece clearly sees that there’s now more space for conservatism, intolerance and aggression than what it used to be and these are characteristics that are expressed by the political far right. Wherever you turn there’s a political discussion. Everyone tries to shout louder than the other, just like on Greek television. Greeks are stressed and angry as the crisis is awakening their survival instincts. They push each other as if they are in a crowd waiting to get into a stadium. The doors do not open and more and more people arrive. They are exhausted. For the past two years they keep arguing non-stop. On the street, in the car, for the rent they can’t pay anymore, for the gas that has now become a luxury, for the new property tax, for the new salary cuts. They are angry at the politicians, they are angry at the EU, they are angry at themselves for voting these politicians in.

    Nine out of ten keep saying they want to immigrate, yet the reality is that only a small percentage can get a decent job abroad. For instance, while the Greek media circulated that there are massive waves of Greek immigrants to Australia, the Australian Immigration Department spokesman said that during 2011 only 12 immigrants were able to immigrate to Australia, adding that Greeks did show interest of migrating to Australia but there were no relevant applications.

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