A man carry bags of donated food as he leaves with a meal for the homeless organized by the municipality of Athens on Wednesday Jan. 1, 2014. Homelessness has increased dramatically during the financial crisis in Greece, which has depended on international rescue loans for more than three years. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece assumes the presidency of the European Union Wednesday, starting 2014 with a promise by the government to pull the country out of a six-year recession, keep a balanced budget, and effectively end a financial crisis that rattled the euro.
“In 2014, Greece will return to the markets and start to become a normal country again,” Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in a televised New Year’s address. “After six unending, painful years, 2014 will herald the prospect of growth … What’s important is that we’ve avoided the worst.”
But have they?
With most of the 240 billion euros ($330 billion) in bailout loans already paid out, Greece still has an unsustainably high national debt, faces the threat of renewed political instability, and has more than one-in-four jobless and steadily sliding into poverty.
Greeks greeted the New Year after many spent hours lining up in tax offices to pay austerity levies on time. And heavy smog has returned to the country’s capital after decades this winter as households left with no heating throw scrap wood and garbage onto the fireplace to try to keep warm.
Here’s a look at some of Greece’s most pressing problems:
NO JOB, NO INSURANCE
Greece’s financial tailspin wiped out nearly a quarter of its economy and roughly a million jobs. From 7.2 percent before the recession in Login to read more