t the moment, we see only the dark face of Europe,” said Leonidas Fotinos. “They want to buy Greece cheap.”
A large, young-looking man in his early 50s, Leonidas studied economics at university and was now running a small tour business on the historic Aegean island of Milos. He could hardly have been more removed from the street protests and ideological struggles in Athens, but he had strong views on how the conflict between Greece and its foreign creditors was uprooting the lives of ordinary Greeks.
The only wealth most Greeks had was in their own family property, he explained in his poetic English. He himself had a property on the outskirts of Athens. Before the global economic crisis, it had been valued at €800,000, against which he could borrow at a bank. Now it was worth maybe €250,000 – if he could find someone to buy it or a bank willing and able to lend.
“It’s not just private property,” he said. The EU and IMF were also insisting that Greece sell its ports and other national assets. “That’s not investment,” he said. “That’s just privatization.”
All this from a small player in the one big Greek industry that does not stand directly in the line of fire, at least not yet. “Tourism is surviving,” he smiled. “Prices have held steady for the last three years, which makes Greece seem an attractive destination for foreigners.”