|Posted by George Freund on July 5, 2015 at 4:20 PM|
Residents spent the week desperately queuing outside banks in an attempt to withdraw cash as the country slid further towards financial ruin
Greek voters told of their anxiety at the outcome of the crucial referendum
Queues continued at cash machines as workers withdrew 60 euro limit
Despite chaos tables at restuarants in some affluent areas remained full
By NICK FAGGE IN ATHENS FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 12:54 GMT, 5 July 2015 | UPDATED: 18:01 GMT, 5 July 2015
The gaping divide between Greece’s ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ was laid bare in Athens today as the country went to the polls to decide on whether to accept the EU bail-out.
While hundreds queued for a free meal at soup kitchens across the capital others enjoyed a long lunch with family in the sunshine.
Voters told of their anxiety at the outcome of the crucial referendum to decide on whether to accept or reject the harsh conditions Brussels has set to continue to bail-out the bankrupt state.
The gaping divide between Greece’s ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ was laid bare in Athens today as the country went to the polls to decide on whether to accept the EU bail-out
Queues continued at cash machines as workers lined the streets to withdraw their 60 euro limit, imposed to stop banks running out of money.
But a safety deposit box firm has recorded record business in recent weeks as the rich stash away their cash.
Restaurant tables were packed on the terraces of Mitropoleos Street, which looks up to the Acropolis, where lunch for a family of four costs about 40 euros – two-thirds of the daily cash withdrawal limit.
A staff member told MailOnline: ‘Lately loads of people have hired safety deposit boxes to store cash.
Desperate elderly Greeks queue outside banks for pensions
Hundreds queued for a free meal at soup kitchens across the capital, with one man given a portion of macaroni cheese and a bread roll
Others enjoyed a long lunch with family in the sunshine at restaurants where lunch for four costs about 40 euros – two-thirds of the daily cash withdrawal limit
‘They either work for the government or are rich Athenians.’
Supporters of the bail-out plan, who have voted ‘Yes’, argued the country must accept the EU’s conditions – saying Greece would descend into ruin if forced to go it alone.
While Greeks backing left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras opposition to Brussels, who have voted ‘No’, argued that the country cannot survive any more austerity.
But voters cannot be categorised simply by their wealth.
Queuing for food among the homeless and destitute at a church-run soup kitchen in the centre of Athens was unemployed biologist Stefanos Pappas who has been forced to accept charity to make ends meet.
Unshaven and dressed in shorts and an ill-fitting polo shirt he held a small portion of macaroni and a bread roll in his hand.
He told MailOnline: ‘I’m going to vote 'Yes'. Greece is a modern European country and I want it to stay so. Our future lives inside the EU, no matter how bad things are now.
Long queues form in Athens as pensioners try to access banks
Greek Orthodox Priest, Father Pantelis, said: ‘I want to keep the euro and remain inside the EU but I am voting 'No''
Queues continued at cash machines as workers lined the streets to withdraw their 60 euro limit, imposed to stop banks running out of money
‘The food is bad quality. There are no fresh vegetables or vitamins in this. It’s just stodge.’
Pensioner Maria Charitopoulou, 87, a widow, whose husband worked as a cargo ship’s captain, added: ‘I’m voting 'Yes' because I believe that we must keep the euro and stay in the EU. We belong in Europe and we must do whatever is necessary to stay in the EU.
‘I don’t want to go back to the Drachma. It would mean chaos. We would not be able to import anything and we don’t manufacture anything anymore in Greece so we would be in a mess. All our young people would leave Greece because there would be no future for them.
‘This crisis has left Greece in a worst situation than after the Second World War. At least in 1946 we had hope – now there is no hope.
‘I don’t worry about myself because I will be dead in a couple of years – but what about my two sons and my three grandchildren? How are they going to survive in a Greece in ruins?’
But others told MailOnline it was time Greece stood up to Germany and rejected the EU conditions to keep the country financially afloat.
Warden Stavroula Chatzina, of the picturesque St George Lycabettus Church, said: ‘I’m voting 'No'. I don’t want to be ruled by a fascist from Germany'
The 70-year-old added that she could not put up with austerity any longer, having suffered for five years
Greek Orthodox Priest, Father Pantelis, said: ‘I want to keep the euro and remain inside the EU but I am voting 'No'. Something has to change. We cannot go on like this. We have 1,500 people coming to us for food every day – sometimes more. The system is broken.’
Warden Stavroula Chatzina, of the picturesque St George Lycabettus Church, which overlooks Athens, 70, added: ‘I’m voting 'No'. I don’t want to be ruled by a fascist from Germany.
‘We’ve had five years of austerity and we cannot put up with it any longer.
‘I want the best for Greece. If the outcome of the vote means Greece is kicked out of the Euro so be it.
‘I have been praying so that whatever the outcome it will be the best for Greece.’
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