On air at 11GMT: Can things get worse for Greece?
Today's show is part of a week of special programmes that are trying to reflect conversations occurring in five countries that have had a tumultuous year, today Greece is in the spotlight. We're asking what does the future look like for my country?
2011 was the third year in a row that Greece survived bankruptcy, but the salvation came with a very high social cost. After receiving the first six instalments of a 150 billion euro bailout package by the EU and the IMF - the biggest in these institutions' history- the country introduced a series of austerity measures that have brought millions to their knees. In my view, they have failed to tackle the problem. Recession is still deepening, unemployment is reaching 20% and the deficit remains high at around 10% contrary to all predictions, catching the economy in what some economists have called a "death spiral".
Ι imagine that never before, at least not in the past thirty years, has the birthplace of democracy suffered so many dark and humiliating headlines all over the world as it has this year. Greece was characterized 'Ground Zero' of the economic crisis and the Greeks were widely portrayed in the international press as lazy and tax evaders. This triggered furious reactions within common Greeks against stereotyping but also kick-starting a conversation in the country around democracy.
During 2011 all of the social institutions underwent through enormous changes. For the first time since World War II, meals returned to primary and secondary schools in order to resolve the problem of malnourished children in some areas of Athens, a shock to Greek society. Parts of the centre of the city were declared by the NGO 'Doctors of the World' as areas of humanitarian crisis. People turned massively to the weak public health system, abandoning the private sector and the media entered a cycle of accelerated shrinkproofing. Immigration, a dominant issue in the Greek press a few years ago remained high on the media agenda but in a reverse manner. From a country that needed immigrants, Greece has now become a country that exports its youth and is suffering a brain drain.
And the problem is far from over. Many analysts still think that default and the return to the drachma is an inevitable development since Greece fails to reduce the deficit or produce economic growth. So where are Greece and the Greeks heading from here?
We'd like to hear that from you. What did you make of the news about the Greek crisis during 2011 and if you're Greek how did it affect you? What do you think should happen in 2012? What are your wishes and hopes for the New Year? You can post your comments here or at facebook.com/worldhaveyoursay Do call us during the show at +44 20 70 83 72 72 or use the hashtag for this special programmes week #mywhys