Greece (MNN) — Greece’s economic troubles are no secret. In 2009, the country sought an emergency bail-out to stay solvent.
Years of hard cost-cutting measures followed. And now, five years later, the Greek people have had enough. With unemployment at 25% (youth unemployment is closer to 60%), minimum wages falling, taxes rising, and pensions being squeezed, people don’t want to deal with austerity any more. They rebelled in last month’s elections.
The new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, came to power promising an end to austerity, a raise in minimum wages, preserve pensions, and promising that their suffering would end quickly. Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International says, “He’s been just elected, and so people are supporting him and they’re feeling nationalistic pride; so even the church people are supporting him.”
His conundrum: in order for him to fulfill his campaign promises, the European Union has to provide additional funding for Greece–but they’re not willing to fund deficits for the country. “If he insists on what he wants to do, he’s going to basically run out of money. The European Union is going to refuse to lend him anymore. Greece will not have any liquidity.”
Ioannidis says the next few days are critical.
“There is a critical meeting that is taking place on Wednesday, the 11th of February, in which Greece is supposed to present a plan of what it is proposing. And then there is supposed to be an agreement on the future direction for Greece on the 16th of February.” However, with the way Tsipras remains defiant, “If there is no agreement, potentially Greece can run out of money by the 28th of February. And then nobody knows what will happen after that.”
Tsipras has also promised that he won’t endanger Greece’s presence in the Eurozone, but, notes Ioannidis, it’s hard to see how he’s going to keep all his promises and stay within the Euro. “People’s deposits in the bank will be frozen; the banks will not be able to give people whatever they have in their bank accounts. There’s going to be a devastating time for Greece, and the end result will be that Greece has to exit the Euro.” A Greek exit will leave the European Central Bank holding billions of dollars of Greek debt. That could, in turn, devalue the Euro, create global cash flow problems, and lead to investor troubles.
On another front, Tsipras is an atheist. Can he be trusted? “He’s also said in the past that he’s going to tax the property of the Church, so things may not be so rosy if he proceeds and makes good on those promises.”
With the future of Greece so uncertain, Ioannidis says prayer is appreciated. It has been what has upheld an exhausted staff. God is working because people are open to the Gospel now. “We see that throughout our ministries. We see that through our St. Luke’s Hospital in Thessaloniki, where we actually have record numbers of patients as the quality of government healthcare has gone down.”
Uncertainty keeps people on edge and nervous. As the world watches the next few days, Ioannidis asks, “Pray that God will intervene, that God will continue to draw people to Him, that the churches and the ministries would be supported. Also, as a ministry, we need financial support as we continue to provide for people that have financial needs.” Ultimately, “Regardless of what happens in the country, whatever the outcome is, [pray] that God will protect His people, that God will protect the ministries that are there and will continue to use them for His glory.”