Greece (MNN) — The Greek government fell into chaos Tuesday when
Greece's Prime Minister called for a popular referendum on a new debt deal.
AMG International COO and Executive Vice President, Tasos Ioannidis, explains, "There was a new agreement that updates the
previous agreement that was approved. So, the new agreement has to be approved
by the Greek Parliament again." Euro
zone leaders last week hammered out Greece's second financial rescue in a year,
in return for yet more austerity.
Given the unpopularity of the earlier measures, the second deal
was likely to provoke more ire. "People are frustrated with the austerity
measures, so the Prime Minister is very worried that these new changes will be
approved by Parliament," says Ioannidis. "Therefore, his idea was to
hold a referendum, probably around January, to give the opportunity for the
Greek people to approve the agreement."
However, the revolt came from Greece's own lawmakers who planned a
no-confidence vote for November 4. "It's
an open question right now because the latest developments from Greece show no
support for such a referendum," Tasos Ioannidis notes. The instability raised the possibility of a
government collapse, and that had the rest of Europe alarmed.
Greece's decision could spark a financial market panic that could
hurt other shaky European economies. "The European powers, particularly
Germany and France, are very upset because they feel that this undermines the
efforts that are being made to save the Euro." If there is no government, the austerity plan
they agreed on would be delayed in implementation. The debt deal was meant to help Greece stay
out of default and bankruptcy. The events of the last few days could scuttle
that plan and create havoc in the 17 countries sharing the Euro.
The turmoil could lead to a toppling of the Greek government and a
hastily organized do-over. Says
Ioannidis, "It introduces a lot of uncertainty in the markets. The
reaction has been very unfavorable. The reaction has been unfavorable for many
in Greece. Therefore, there is a high probability that the referendum will not
take place, and rather, elections will take place."
the fluidity of the situation are also prompting a wave of exodus. Fotis Romeos, Coordinator
of Eastern European Ministries for AMG, says people are trying to leave Greece to pursue a better
future. He writes, "Thousands of
Greeks have already filed petitions for immigrating to Australia and other
countries which are open to immigration. The common people of middle
class started feeling the pressure of the economy as the cuts in salaries and
heavy taxation increased their agony and that of their families."
Yet, their team
remains dedicated not only to work like St. Luke's Hospital in Thessalonica,
but also to the CosmoVision Center in Athens, the bookstores, and work with
countless local evangelical bodies.
Ioannidis says, "It's difficult for all of our co-workers
in Greece. This uncertainty affects
everyone, and everybody would like to have a resolution to this, to at least know
where we are heading."
In the midst of
this situation, the AMG team continues to proclaim the Gospel and the hope found in
Christ. "There is definitely a lot more interest in spiritual matters," Ioannidis says, adding, " People are desperat. And when people get desperate,
they tend to do a lot of soul searching.
It's a great opportunity to share the Gospel."
There are new opportunities like the mobile medical unit which can be used to
minister in northern Greece to the Pomac ethnic group. This is an unreached
people group that belongs to the Muslim faith.
also the public face of AMG in Greece, St Luke's Hospital. Please continue to pray fervently for the
staff, the needs, and the financial support of the hospital. The facility is under Greece's public health
system and depends on government payments
for its financial well being.
says the government owes the hospital a tremendous amount of money and needs
help. "We are hearing the public sector
continue to decline, and other private hospitals are seeing declines. We are seeing a lot of demand for our
services. In the midst of this crisis, we have opportunities to minister to
lots of people."
More than ever, Greece is a spiritual battleground. "We need prayer for our leaders of the
ministry, particularly St. Luke's, because they have to make decisions every
day in the midst of the uncertainty. We need prayer for Greece, that God will
work in the hearts of the people and the hearts of the leaders, and that there
is a resolution."