Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Should Greece have to pay back its entire debt to the EU?

(photo taken from the BBC)

It looks as if people in Greece do not like the idea of 'austerity'. Actually, probably nobody likes the idea of austerity.  Austerity means, basically, giving up luxuries and extra comfortable things and living as simply as possible.  It doesn't necessarily mean you will live uncomfortably, but it means you won't have the extra things you might want or have become accustomed to (used to).

When Greece borrowed billions of dollars from The Eurozone to keep the country running, the government of Greece agreed to austerity measures.  The government agreed to cut spending and other wasteful things (government workers, for instance, were receiving huge pensions upon retirement - a pension is free money you get after you retire). Now, however, there is a new political party in Greece and 1) they don't believe in austerity any more and 2) they don't want to pay back the money they borrowed from other Europeans. This party - Syriza - is now in power.

Apparently Greece is threatening to leave the European Union if they are forced to continue austerity measures and if they are forced to pay off their debts completely. If Greece leaves the EU, this will probably destroy the EU in that economic investors will lose confidence in the Union - they will fear that other countries may leave in the future as well (and many probably will).  So Greece is partially blackmailing the EU - "If you don't give us what we want, we will do something to severely hurt you." The EU does not want to give in to blackmail since other countries seriously in debt will do the same thing in the future.

What do you think?  Should Greece pay off its debt completely or should the EU cut some of the debt and stop requiring austerity measures? 

An article from the BBC about this:


Vocabulary from the article:

Syriza - this is the new political party that recently won the Greek elections.  They won because they promised the Greek people they would not continue austerity programs and that they would not pay off the complete Greek debt.

negotiation not confrontation - confrontation is when two people or groups have a different solution to a problem and they fight over the solution instead of using negotiation strategies.

the debt is not sustainable - usually if something is sustainable it can continue existing. Here I think he means that if Greece and the EU do not help Greece get rid of this debt there will be a disastrous situation.  Basically he is saying, "This situation cannot continue, or something terrible will happen."

a bailout - this is when a company or country desperately needs money in order to survive and a government or other lending sources provide this emergency money.

to live up to its commitments - it must honor its commitments, it must do what it promised to do

to unveil - to reveal or show

centrifugal - a centrifuge is a machine that spins very quickly so that heavy stuff in the machine stays toward the middle but lighter stuff gets thrown farther from the center of the machine. So this person is saying that the powerful contries will throw the less powerful countries out or force them away from the center of European life.

to incorporate change - to accept and live with change

to collapse - to fall apart

credible - serious, believable

protectionist - someone who wants to protect his/her own economy and who does not care about other economies or countries

sangfroid - cold blood, in this case I think it would test and see how strong the markets would be

a rupture - a tearing apart, an explosion

nationalists are in the ascendant - a nationalist is someone who only believes in his/her own country. To ascend is to rise. So investors might feel that any country dominated by nationalists will acquire huge debts and just refuse to pay them or drop out of the EU.

frenzied - wild

panic - when you are no longer acting in a calm manner

implausible - not easily believed

reason will prevail - to prevail means to win; so here if reason prevails, the right thing or the most reasonable thing will happen

to sanction a write-off - to agree to or to approve a cancellation of the huge debt

peers - those around us

viable - possible

troika - a group of three

not on the radar - radar is used to track airplanes, if something is not on the radar it doesn't exist

a volatile start - a shaky, quickly changing start


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