Church fears ‘dictatorship’ in debt-burdened Greece

By: Christian Today reporter

The Greek Orthodox Church in Great Britain has spoken of its concerns for Greece as the country struggles to free itself from a crippling debt crisis.

Capital city Athens was rocked by violent protests on Wednesday as Greek riot police took on hundreds of protesters angry over the government’s austerity measures.

After power-sharing talks collapsed yesterday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced he would form a new government and seek a parliamentary vote of confidence in a renewed effort to push through the unpopular austerity package.

Charis Mettis, spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, said he was “very worried” about Greece.

“It is a very serious situation,” he told Christian Today. “We hope that Greece won’t be landed with a dictatorship. Something similar happened in 1967, when politicians could not agree and the army moved in.

“We hope that won’t happen this time.”

He said that people in Greece were feeling “desperate” and that the widespread cuts, particularly to wages, were “hurting” them.

Mr Mettis was critical of the approach by other European countries, which have attached stringent terms to their bailout of the Greek economy.

“The European countries are pushing Greece to the extreme and it’s a volatile country, it’s not like Ireland,” he said.

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy prepare to meet for crunch talks on the eurozone on Friday, Mr Mettis said the future of Greece would depend largely on what the stronger European countries decided.

At home, opposition parties are demanding an election, but Mr Mettis said an election would not solve Greece’s financial problems.

“Whoever becomes prime minister, the financial situation is too serious. The only hope is that politicians will be pushed to form a universal government and the people of the centre-left will accept the cuts to salaries and so on,” he said.

Whilst sympathising with Greeks over the impact of the austerity cuts, he said the people should accept them because they are necessary.

“It’s a give and take,” he said.