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   Mar 21

‘I’m very emotional’: Melbourne’s Greek community braces for vote

Joseph Xiradakis hopes the country will vote in favour of the measures.As children chased the pigeons outside a Melbourne Greek Orthodox parish, the adults’ emotions were similarly stirred over the crisis back in the motherland.
Nanjing Night Net

Greeks headed to the polls at 2pm Sunday, Australian time, to vote for or against more stringent austerity measures.

The referendum comes after Greece defaulted on an International Monetary Fund loan of 1.5 billion euros ($A2.18 billion).

Out the front of South Melbourne’s St Eustathios parish on Sunday morning, people were concerned for their relatives facing hardship in Greece.

Joseph Xiradakis said he believed if the country voted no to the austerity measures, its economy would collapse.

“If it is going out from the Euro, it doesn’t have the dough to go on,” he said.

“But if it stays in the Euro… there is a little bit more safety.”

Mr Xiradakis, who moved to Melbourne almost 50 years ago, said he felt helpless for his relatives in Crete.

“People are trying to do something,” he said, “but the trouble is, what can you do? You can’t do much. Greece is right in the bottom. It’s a very bad thing.”

But over in Brunswick, recently arrived Olga Grammenou was a “definite no” to more austerity.

“All the years, the governments we’ve had were full in corruption and they weren’t really care [caring] about the people in Greece,” she said.

“This government shows that she fights about people’s rights, that she cares.”

The cafe worker moved to Melbourne from Corfu more than two years ago after losing her 17-year job as an optical dispenser and was unable to find a new one.

She and her son, now 6, joined her husband, who came the year before to escape the country’s dire financial situation.

Ms Grammenou said her friends back in Greece were struggling even to buy food.

She thought most of them would vote no, but said many were were confused because of propaganda from the European Union.

“They’re terrifying them,” she said echoing the words of Greece finance minister Yanis Varoufakis who has accused his country’s creditors of “terrorism”.

“I’m very emotional about the situation.”

Back in South Melbourne, Terry Charalambous described the mood in Melbourne’s Greek community as “worried and anxious”.

He said it was divided on which way the country should vote, with passion on both sides.

“I fear the worse if they don’t [vote yes],” he said.

Maria Kypriotis agreed: “We think it’s a good thing for the Greeks to change their habits and start again.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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