Rector of UNYP Andreas Antonopoulos in Hyde Park on CT 24

The Rector of the University of New York in Prague, Andreas Antonopoulos in the Hyde Park news talk show program of the Czech TV.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored her support for Greece during her recent visit in Athens. More than 50.000 people demonstrated against her visit blaming the German policy towards Greece as being responsible for many of the severe difficulties faced by the population under the ongoing austerity and recession in the country. Did the protestors represent the majority opinion in Greece? Is Greece going to go bankrupt? Will Greece stay as a member of the Eurozone? How is the debt crisis in Europe shaping up? The Rector of the University of New York in Prague, Andreas Antonopoulos, answers such questions in the Hyde Park news talk show program of the Czech TV.

Translated questions asked to Andreas Antonopoulos during Hyde Park broadcast, 10 October 2012: 

The first question comes from our web-page. Jirka has asked our broadcast:  „Good evening, do you see any real possibility for Greece to manage to get through the crisis without having a significant portion of its debt pardoned?  The Greeks are already having problems fulfilling the conditions for aid. In 2020 having a debt to GDP level of 140% does not seem very credible and moreover it won’t solve anything.“

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  Do you expect that it will be necessary to pardon further debt, as Jirka writes, „a significant portion of Greek debt?

Mr. Takáč (moderator): Jirka casts doubt here on these plans, on the commitments; the debt to GDP ratio at 140% doesn’t sound very credible to him.  Are they credible/believable and, yes, are Greece’s plans for getting beyond the crisis believable?  How do you stay in the Euro Zone, how do you remain part of this union? 

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  You mentioned that the debt will grow still.  Do you have an estimate for this figure?  What will the numbers look like in, say, the coming five years? 

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  And then there is the question, is this a realistic plan?  If the numbers will be accurate, or if they won’t be higher, or if that figure, the top limit that you spoke about, could not be higher still?

A question from the web: "When will the Greek state (government) go bankrupt and when will the European Union collapse?“
Mr. Takáč (moderator):  You mentioned the long war-time period, etc., when speaking now.  Recently someone made the comment here on Hyde Park that in fact the problem for the EU is that we did so many bad things in the past  that this is why the EU cannot work. What do you think about this opinion?

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  We also spoke here about national bankruptcy – doesn’t Greece now have the prospect of national bankruptcy behind it?  Some opinions state that in the moment that certain debt was written off, which has already happened, that this is essentially tantamount to national bankruptcy.  So isn’t Greece already past this?

Question from Ekonom on Facebook: "What is more advantageous for the average Greek (citizen)?  National (state) bankruptcy or aid from the EU? Being half Greek/half British you definitely know how to assess  everyday life.  You know the conditions very well.“

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  And are you convinced that people, who are today unemployed, who closed their businesses due to bankruptcy, that they see things this way?  That another route might not have been better for them? 

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  Has enough thought been given to the growth that you’ve mentioned in the plans for Greece?

Call-in:  Here is professor, Richard Richter, and the same as your guest I have British citizenship, and also Czech citizenship and others.  I would like for the guest to explain how the situation with the debt actually looks?  According to the debt (figures) each Greek should have been a millionaire several times over, not just once.  But please, all (the money) sent there, at least 95% of it, goes to pay off debt, and only those 5% is for the people, that means for businesses, etc.  Banks have thrown it all around, etc., so please, then the banks only have to guarantee 100.000 EUR for people, who have deposits there, otherwise they can easily go bankrupt.  And don’t be afraid, please don’t say that it’s impossible for Greece to leave.  Either it stays in the EU and leaves that fund (the Euro Zone), refuses all debt, should it still exist, for the debt wasn’t caused by regular citizens, if there are a couple thousand of bankers, etc. there, speculators, this is their problem, and it shouldn’t be the problem of regular citizens.  Then you speak of growth.  There can’t be any growth there, only tourism, fruit, etc., but it isn’t possible to build factories there as some people might imagine.  So the only thing to do is refuse, refuse those debts that the Greeks did not actually create.  I mean people are going hungry there and how is it that those millions; I mean after all do you have 10 million EUR?  Explain to us how the debt is to be repaid and where the money will go?

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  And what the professor mentioned:  how is it with the repayment of debts?  The money that goes to Greece essentially goes right back out to creditors, 95% vs. 5%, that remain in Greece. Is that right?
Another question from the internet from Petra:  „Do you think Greece should have joined the Euro Zone?  Was it prepared to do so?“

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  Despite that, there are some economic figures or there were economic statistics at the time Greece joined the EU, as well as when it joined the Euro Zone and the Euro currency was created.  Those figures, or at least according to those figures, was Greece strong enough to do so, regardless of what happened later, as you described?

Petr again from Facebook:  „How do Greeks interpret the current state of the Euro Zone?  Are the Greek people guilty?  Greek politicians?  Someone else?  Do you agree that when a snake bites your finger that you cut the finger off, or do you wait until the poison kills you?  Do you see in this case an analogy to the state of the EU?“

Mr. Takáč (moderator): It’s a question of whether we’re speaking about cutting off a leg or a finger.  Whether this is not the difference.

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  Petr also asks about the state of the Euro Zone.  How is this interpreted in Greece?  Who is responsible for the current state of affairs in the Euro Zone?  Is it the Greek people or their politicians, or is it an external problem?  Is it the fault of someone somewhere else as he writes?Let’s go to the web for another question: “Good evening, Mr. Antonopoulos.  What does it look like in Greece as concerns the size of the state administration, pension levels for state employees, the ability to fire them, the number of wage payments they receive per year and the workloads they have?  We hear so many things about this, but I would be interested in knowing how things really are.” 

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  So here is the criticism that sometimes comes up that Greece as a country has not made much progress in its austerity measures; that is, that it hasn’t reduced the size of the State administration.  Is this criticism appropriate? It does come up from time to time.

Mr. Takáč (moderator):  So please two short answers:  The pension levels for State employees and the number of salaries they receive per year – so that we answer all our viewer’s questions. 

Call in – Martin on the phone.  “First of all I would like to say why is it necessary to push the blame onto politicians.  Politicians are elected by the people and most often for selfish reasons.  I see one solution that is very, very painful, but doable nonetheless.  Extremely painful.  But why don’t you sell some islands?  Use the money to pay your debts and then begin again with a clean slate?”
JirkaPruka from Facebook: „Good evening.  How would you assess the quality of the Czech education system and mainly of students‘ mathematical, logical and analytical abilities?  What changes would you eventually recommend and what is your opinion on the substantial growth in the number of private colleges/universities in the Czech Republic?“

Mr. Takáč (moderator): We’ve named here three specific areas for the level (quality) of Czech students.  Mathematics.  Logic. Analytics.  Your opinion on this?
The last question for today’s Hyde Park from Pepa.  Please give us a very brief answer: „I like Greek national pride.  For example, the airport in Heraklion first greets us in Greek, then only after in English.  We have Václav Havel Airport in Prague, but on the airport building you only find the English name, Václav Havel Airport Prague.  Is this not shameful?”

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