Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says his country is facing economic upheaval like that of the devastating U.S. Great Depression of the 1930s.
Samaras made the comparison Sunday as he met with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who was in the Greek capital to help promote economic investment. Samaras is faced with trying to revive the Greek economy, now in its fifth year of recession.
“You had the Great Depression in the United States. This is exactly what we are going through now in Greece. It is our version of the Great Depression,” he said.
Greece is trying to win European approval to ease the terms of its newest financial rescue package, the country’s second bailout in two years.
But German Economic Minister Philipp Roesler warned the country would not receive any more money if it does not comply with its commitment to impose more austerity measures to cut the government’s budget. He said the possibility Greece might default on its loans and become the first country to exit the 17-nation euro currency zone has “lost its horror.”
Clinton criticized European leaders who have made continual financial demands on the Greek government. He said Athens needs to make structural reforms, but a total focus on austerity is misguided.
“But, if every day people are saying, well, it may or may not work, so give us back 100 cents on the dollar, so give us more austerity today, is self-defeating,” he said. “People need something to look forward to when they get up in the morning, and each needs something to believe in, so they can stake their future here.”