Greece’s February unemployment for young persons rose to 64 percent in February. In the early stage of their working lives, unemployed youths are limited by a recession which will take years to recover from. The average unemployment in Greece, of all ages, is around 27 percent.
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Photo: REUTERS/John Kolesidis
The weekend announcement that Cyprus would impose a tax on bank accounts as part of a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout by the European Union broke with previous practice that depositors’ savings were sacrosanct. The euro and stock markets fell on concern the euro zone crisis was returning.
Before the vote, which is too close to call, the government was working to soften the blow to smaller savers by tilting more of the tax towards those with deposits greater than 100,000 euros ($130,700. Many of these depositors Russians and the planned levy has already elicited an angry reaction from President Vladimir Putin.
The government says Cyprus has no choice but to accept the bailout with the tax on deposits, or go bankrupt.
A Cypriot source told Reuters the introduction of a tax-free threshold for smaller bank deposits - maybe up to 20,000 euros - was under discussion but not yet agreed.
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“The news was not covered by the media … because media owners were among those favored,”
To many observers the episode illustrates the interplay between politics, big business and powerful media owners. The interwoven interests of these sectors, though not necessarily illegal or improper, are seen as an obstacle to Greece’s attempts to rescue its economy. They are, say critics, partly to blame for the current crisis and for hindering reform.
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Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visited Bavaria on Sunday, charming former critics of Greece in the southern German state who once wished to eject his country from the euro zone, and departing with pledges of solidarity and support.
Samaras’ visit to Munich and dinner with Bavaria’s State Premier Horst Seehofer on Sunday night was another sign of the new thaw in Greek-German relations that started when Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens in October and was convinced of Athens’ commitment to painful reforms.
“We want to support the Greek government and the Greek people, and help them gain economic growth and competitiveness,” Seehofer said at a press conference with Samaras.
Seehofer added the Greeks deserved deep respect for their achievements. “They are on a good way to overcoming the causes of the crisis.”
She told me that every day she spends up to six hours trawling the internet for job opportunities and applies for any job she can find – she gets few replies. “I sit in my office for hours on end looking for work. I rarely go out and I am nearly always on my own.”
She has tried everything – even recruitment agencies that specialize in jobs in Australia – but she says they exploited her. “They took hundreds of euros from me for administration fees and then said I wasn’t eligible to work in Australia as I don’t score enough points for a visa. They said I could pay more money and apply again.”
Natassa is divorced and she has no family. Her mother and father, a university professor and a lawyer, died several years ago. Her brother died last year plunging her further into depression.
Her once affluent lifestyle has slipped slowly from her grasp and who knows where she will end up?
Photo blog: Homeless by August? A hopeless situation