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CONNECT THE WORLD
Greek Parliament Votes for Austerity, Public Riots; How Shall Austerity Play in Rest of Europe? Turmoil Follows Greece's Austerity Vote; Militant Blamed for Kabul Hotel Siege
Aired June 29, 2011 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I am Becky Anderson, in a very tense Athens this Wednesday evening, where just hours ago Greek politicians voted yes to austerity and no to default.
But on the streets outside the parliament building, scenes of rage, not relief, greeted the outcome. Tonight, how the anger felt in one country is spreading across an entire continent.
We'll head to Italy, where workers are using mock videos to highlight a massacre there in the jobs market.
To Spain, where protest has become a part of daily life.
And why Britain faces its biggest strike in more than 80 years.
These stories and more tonight on a special edition CONNECT THE WORLD.
A very warm welcome. Crisis averted, for now at least. The Greek Parliament today approving a controversial package of swingeing austerity measures in staving off a default, as I say, for now at least.
But the story is by no means over. If the government managed to prevent chaos in the Eurozone, they couldn't control the emotions of furious protesters in the streets of Athens today. Riot police firing rounds, tear gas into the crowds as small groups threw stones and set fires, dozens of people were hospitalized with breathing problems.
And the tense situation continues as we speak. The plan that enraged these demonstrators was approved in parliament by a vote of 155 to 138. A small victory and a big relief for the prime minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE PAPANDREOU, GREEK PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We roll up our sleeves and we do the work next to the Greek people really lifts its own cross under the burden of catastrophic policies of previous governments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Now the passage of this plan, let me tell you, is just the first hurdle. There is an awful lot more to come. Richard Quest has been with me here in Athens all day.
Your reaction to a vote that was described by the governor of the Bank of Greece before it happened as "Greece's suicide moment," to a certain extent.
RICHARD QUEST, HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Yes. And he also said it would be crime if they didn't pass the legislation. It had been thought that the vote would be very narrow, maybe one or two. But in the event it wasn't, 138 to 155, with seven or so abstentions.
So clearly there was a feeling -- one legislator summed it up perfectly. He said, you know, he was doing his duty in what was happening. And rather than focusing on their disgrace.
ANDERSON: Then come back to what happened there, and consequently what might happen for Europe a little bit later, Richard is going to stay with me during the show.
I want to get you a sense, though, of what happened outside the parliament building after the vote came through. We said 155 to 138 with seven abstentions. This is by no means a sort -- a result that looks as if everybody is on board. And certainly the protesters outside were pretty angry.
Take a look at this.
ANDERSON: Parliament building just there. This is about an hour after the vote, and this was extremely violent for a period of time.
Can we go a little bit further down there? This is just off the main square and somebody has been injured down here. Trying to help this guy out, he has obviously been hurt in one of the attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is not only for Greece. This will happen in other countries too. This is just the beginning. This is an experiment.
ANDERSON: And what about the vote today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody wanted it, nobody. This is based on the -- the selling away of our country.
ANDERSON: This was called a suicide vote earlier on by the Bank of Greece governor. He said if you don't pass this, the country is gone. So it's understandable that people are very, very angry.
So there you go, some rock-throwing. We are seeing a few guys now lobbing pretty much anything they can get their hands on. Stuff like that, just pieces of dirt, pieces of concrete.
They're also moving -- moving them back this way or -- we're going to move back this way.
(INAUDIBLE) up against the police who are now in all the corners of the square.
I've moved behind Joe the cameraman now because the rocks are being thrown from (INAUDIBLE) -- or in this direction certainly.
Yes, we're going to move away from this.
This is our hotel just here. Given that it's picking up somewhat there, we're going to go back in.
ANDERSON: All right. And I just wanted to walk away from the camera for the time being, because it is now 11:00 at night and you can see as the cameraman pans in that the police have got a whole load of protesters outside the parliament building, just penned in away from the square, which is where we saw much of the activity today.
Stay with us through this hour as we break down the repercussions of what happened in the parliament building behind me today, because this isn't just important for the Greeks and the Greek economy, this is important for the entire Eurozone, perhaps for the entire European project.
We're going to show you how their anger, those people here outside the building, is being reflected across Europe, as Dan Rivers meets young people struggling to find work in Italy.
Then we'll head to Spain where Al Goodman has been covering demonstrations for weeks now.
In Germany, many people are tired of paying the price for other countries' problems. Fred Pleitgen is there for you this evening.
And Jim Boulden will bring us the story from London as the U.K. faces its biggest strike since 1926.
Richard Quest still with me here in Athens.
The vote was passed, what are your fears about the coming days and the coming weeks?
QUEST: They have to enact the legislation. And they have to implement the laws. Can they do it? They had a so-so record on the first bail-out. The fundamental question that remains is whether it's going to work. Greece will still be left with a huge amount of debt, and all the scenarios for paying that back are extremely rosy.
It is by no means certain that "bail-out: the sequel" will be any more successful than "bail-out: the original."
ANDERSON: Let's remind ourselves, Richard, that today's agreement clears the way for Greece, of course, to receive the last slice of its bail-out money. This is the.
QUEST: Bail-out I.
ANDERSON: Bail-out I, of course. Let me just give our viewers a sense of where things stand. In the entire world, of course, viewers have a stake in what happens here. And let me explain why for you.
If Greece were to default, financial institutions from Europe, U.S., and Asia which hold Greek debt would take a massive hit, of course. They would no longer receive interest payments they thought that they could count on. And that could lead to bank failures, job losses, and spending cuts.
Plus, if Greece defaulted, experts fear a domino effect in other fragile economies like Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, a wave of defaults like that would send shockwaves, of course, around the world. And this.
QUEST: If I had my "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" bell, ding! That is the reason. The losses from Greece alone, the banks can withstand. We've seen the numbers. We know where the debt is. It would be a bit of indigestion. No one would like it.
It's if Portugal, then Ireland, then Spain, then Italy, the domino effects and the counterparty risk. That's what we mean when we talk about contagion. Economies are still fragile, particularly the United States.
Anything that could cause more upset is what people are worried about.
ANDERSON: Things were tough here last May, who would have thought that we would have been standing here a year later.
QUEST: Absolutely. Well, people thought that they -- the bail-out was never going to work as well as they thought. But they never imagined for a moment you'd be back for another $120 billion, plus another three years, 2014 is when they're thinking about Greece actually coming back into the market.
ANDERSON: And you remember, it's people who count here, because it's people...
ANDERSON: . who will feel these swingeing cuts.
We're going to take a very short break, viewers, here, on this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, live from Athens for you this evening.
After the vote that was passed by parliamentarians was greeted, well, with anger and protests that have continued throughout the day here in Constitution Square. But many Greeks, as I say, are furious and worried, wondering how they can possibly pull their belts any tighter, the pain of austerity is ahead.
It's certainly not limited to Greece, of course. Countries all across Europe are feeling the pinch as their governments slash spending. We'll talk to public workers in Italy, and look at the growing anger in Spain. A special hour of CONNECT THE WORLD live from Athens with me, Becky Anderson, continues after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN LIPSKY, ACTING MANAGING DIRECTOR, IMF: And now we're on a very positive path. The Greeks' action is the absolute benchmark of a successful program here. So it's a very positive step.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: All right. Well, that was the acting managing director of the IMF, praising the austerity measures that were passed by the Greek parliamentarians in the building behind me earlier on today.
He says that is an important step towards economic recovery here in Greece. But that is an absolute -- will stand in absolute contrast to what we are seeing and hearing on these streets of Athens today, at least here in Constitution Square.
And I must say, many of the streets around Constitution Square today, which is the heart of Athens, fairly quiet, but the violence that we saw quite unprecedented here in the square.
Let's bring in Greek financial journalist Matina Stevis. I know that you're back in Greece, you don't necessarily live here all the time. You've certainly been experiencing what has been going on in the square today.
Just describe what you saw and felt.
MATINA STEVIS, FINANCIAL JOURNALIST: Well, it was just a big shock for someone who has been born and raised here. I was here for the 2008 riots. And those were unprecedented. We were all very shocked back then.
But what I felt and saw in the streets today was completely different. It was really quite heart-breaking. And, you know, we're journalists, we try to keep.
STEVIS: Try to keep our cool. But.
ANDERSON: Stun guns going off. It's very tense here in Athens. We will continue just watching people across the square, sort of running from the police, trying to keep people penned in.
Matina, this is something you and I have been experiencing all day.
STEVIS: Exactly. And the tear gas, the tension, the small groups of people just lashing out against riot police and then riot police being very heavy-handed. And this back and forth of the crowd of thousands of peaceful protesters hiding out into the streets around Syntagma Square, and then coming back in.
The chanting and the clapping, it's just -- it has made for an explosive atmosphere here in Athens.
ANDERSON: I spoke to one protester who was looking across to the center of the square where many of what might be described as the anarchists were earlier on today. He said, listen, we didn't want to see what happened in that parliament building today, but we also didn't want to see what these maybe two or three hundred protesters are up to today.
Because the violence was certainly the result of those protesters against the police, wasn't it?
STEVIS: And it always has been so, Becky. This is just a well-known phenomenon here in Athens. Those small groups of anarchists, I'm not even sure that they are anarchists, they're just out for trouble.
And it's just easy for them to infiltrate overall peaceful demonstrations and wreak havoc.
ANDERSON: Matina, I just want to take our viewers through the austerity measures that the government actually approved today, because these are measures that effectively will affect your family, your friends, your cousins who live here, and many, many of the people who were on the streets today.
The austerity plan is made up of tax increases, spending cuts, and privatization. Now the tax plan includes a levy on all households, ranging between 1 and 5 percent of income, plus a luxury levy on cars, on pools, and on yachts.
The government also lowered the tax threshold from about $17,000 to $11,000. That is very, very low. VAT, restaurants and bars, is now 23 percent. That is up from 13 percent before these austerity measures.
And perhaps just as important as all of these tax hikes is an increased focus on tax evasion, which has historically been a big, big problem, of course, in Greece.
Just describe how it feels to be Greek today.
STEVIS: At the same time painful, but surely somewhere deep inside hopeful. Because what we're seeing here, in a very violent and ugly way, and unfortunately in a way that affects the rest of the world, as you've been saying throughout this program, hopeful that this is the breakdown of a system of governance, of a political system of elites that have raped this country for decades.
ANDERSON: Hopeful but convinced?
STEVIS: I supposed yes, that is -- you're spot on there. I guess -- yes, my feelings are mixed as well. Convinced -- hopeful, convinced that my compatriots will have the power and the inspiration to survive these difficult times, but crucially come up with new people, new types of leaders, new parties.
For me, the people in that building behind us are part of the problem. They will never be part of the solution.
ANDERSON: Matina, stay with me throughout the show. I just want to get you some sense of what has been going on over the social media space today. There has been an awful lot of tweeting going on from those who have been here, those who just live in Athens or in other parts of Greece.
Let me take you through some of what we've gotten, as people vented their anger against the measures that we've seen pushed through today, at least the plan for the measures.
Someone in -- on Twitter today, Praxos tweeted: "These measures are a disaster for our country, but if we didn't pass, it would be a catastrophe."
Alexis wrote: "Some of us are not against austerity measures, but against the government's failure to manage growth."
Captain Stells tweeted: "The Greek Parliament votes on austerity package, outside parliament there's war, and you call this democracy?"
And another Twitter user simply wrote, and I quote: "Greece has been forced to take bad medicine."
Do tweet @BeckyCNN, let me know what you think. You're hearing explosions here as we stand above Constitution Square, as it is known. The police are trying to keep protesters at bay. Less activity, I will say, from what have been deemed anarchists in the center of the square.
Many of the protesters that you will see behind me being penned away, as it were, from the square tonight, look to me like some many thousands of regular protesters who were here just venting their anger earlier on today.
We are hearing some stun guns and we are looking and seeing some tear gas, once again, as we've seen all day. We're coming to you live from Athens for you tonight.
Coming up in this next hour, a graphic campaign shows how jobs are being sacrificed in Italy, and bracing for one of its biggest strikes in history. Stay with us for the United Kingdom's summer of discontent.
We're going to have that story in just about five minutes for you. We're live from Athens, stay with us.
ANDERSON: The pain of austerity is not just being felt in Greece, but across Europe. In Ireland, widespread anger over the acceptance of a bail- out package led to an early election in February, in the biggest political shake-up there in more than 80 years.
Similarly, in Portugal, the debt crisis has seen a change of government. Former Prime Minister Jose Socrates resigning after his country's parliament rejected his austerity plan in May.
Well, to get an idea of just why we've seen this sort of backlash that we've seen in this square this evening, as you listen to stun guns and tear gas once again this evening, as you take a look at some of the unemployment figures out across Europe.
In Portugal, 11 percent. We've also seen protests in France, where the jobless rate is 9 percent. And the number in Spain is staggering, 20 percent of people in that country are without a job.
What I want to get is to a number of reports from our correspondents this evening. We're going to start in Italy with Dan Rivers.
DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how some Italian public workers view austerity, a massacre of jobs with civil servants getting fired arbitrarily.
That's why they've made this video. They're all marine biologists whose posts at a government agency are under threat.
Massimiliano Bottaro is one of them. He might leave work this week for the last time. They call workers like him "precari (ph)" in Italian, "the precarious ones," people who have spent years on insecure temporary contracts which are now suddenly vanishing.
MASSIMILIANO BOTTARO, MARINE BIOLOGIST, ISPRA: Italy is firing not only the research, but the future of the country. And it is very bad. I think that the economic reserves for the austerity (ph) are sort of suicide.
RIVERS: There are an estimated half a million public sector workers on temporary contracts, and more and more are becoming victims of austerity, as the government grapples with a massive overspend.
Ivan Consalvo is another precario (ph) facing the axe, a bitter blow after years of being unable to get credit due to job insecurity.
IVAN CONSALVO, MARINE BIOLOGIST, ISPRA: This is very difficult for me, because there is (INAUDIBLE) to obtain in the morning from the bank to buy a home, a car, a scooter. A scooter is a little (INAUDIBLE) to buy for me.
STEFANO MANZOCCHI, ECONOMIST, LUISS UNIVERSITY, ROME: I think that especially people that (INAUDIBLE) for so long in the public sector are ready to go and have riots in the streets.
RIVERS: There have already been student riots against education cuts, now the discontent is spreading. But the government says with a public debt of 119 percent of GDP, twice that of the U.S., not far behind Greece, something has got to give.
(on camera): There is no doubt Italy's epic public debt does need to be tackled. The question is, who is going to pay? The legions of temporary contractors, the precari, feel they've been unfairly burdened by austerity. And it is a potentially explosive situation which could be made even worse if financial contagion spreads from Greece to Italy.
Dan Rivers, CNN, Rome.
ANDERSON: All right. That's the picture in Italy, a backlash over spending cuts. Also spreading to Britain. Jim Boulden shortly is going to explain why Britain is facing the biggest strike since 1926.
Before we get to Jim, though, I want to get you to Spain this evening. We've seen months of strikes and protests there, anger over jobs, taxes, jobs, taxes, and welfare cuts.
Al Goodman now explaining why reforms are desperately needed to lift the economy out of its economic slide.
AL GOODMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll Al Goodman in Madrid, where many economists say one way for Spain to get out of its deep economic crisis would be to improve worker productivity, which lags behind Germany and some other countries.
Some think the unusual work schedule for many Spaniards, with a two- hour lunch break, is part of the problem. Spaniards get to work in the morning about the same time as other Europeans, but as the day wears on, the Spanish work schedule gets more and more out of sync with the rest of Europe, due to some prolonged breaks.
They work long hours here, but economists say that doesn't always add up to more productivity.
JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jim Boulden in London. Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, including teachers, will be on strike on Thursday.
Ports and airports will also be affected. The unions say the government should not be cutting the pensions of these employees in order to cut the budget deficit. And if there's no agreement reached this summer, there could be millions of workers out on strike come the autumn.
ANDERSON: Well, as you look at pictures of a very, very tense center of Athens this evening, with police keeping protesters at bay outside the parliament building, you've just seen why in Britain, Italy, and Spain discontent over spending cuts also wide.
But in Germany, it is a very different story. They're angry about footing the bill for much of what is going on across this economic space. We're going to head to Berlin to get reaction from there in about 20 minutes' time.
Next up though this evening here on CONNECT THE WORLD, the day's other big stories, including a massive upset at Wimbledon. Jonathan Mann and Mark McKay will bring us the news and sports headlines right after this.
Stay with us.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD.
We'll head back to Becky Anderson in Athens in a moment but first a check of the headlines this hour.
In Athens, the controversial vote on budget cuts is over but the turmoil is not. Anti-austerity protestors clash with riot police outside the parliament most of Wednesday. The turmoil comes as lawmakers pass another wave of austerity measures to keep Greece from defaulting on its debts.
Afghanistan's interior ministry says a terrorist group known as the Haqqani network carried out the attack late Tuesday on Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel. A spokesman says a total of nine militants came into Afghanistan from Pakistan. At least 12 people were killed in the siege of the hotel. Officials say all of the militants are now dead.
Protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square raged late into the night as police battled demonstrators there. Hundreds were injured as security forces fired gas and rubber bullets. The demonstration was organized by relatives of those killed during Egypt's revolution earlier this year.
France has confirmed that it airdropped not just food but weapons to Libyan rebels earlier this month. Questions are now being asked in NATO headquarters about whether the French military has violated the international arms embargo on Libya.
Forensic specialists told an Italian court today that DNA findings used to convict American Amanda Knox of murder in 2009 were not reliable. The independent team said police did not follow international inspection procedures and the evidence may have been contaminated. Knox is appealing her conviction.
A big upset on a court at Wimbledon. With that and the rest of the day's sporting is Mark McKay is in the house.
MARK MCKAY, SPORTS ANCHOR: We certainly will start with Wimbledon and this was a shocker, John.
Yes. Six-time champion Roger Federer will not have the chance to claim his record-tying 7th Wimbledon crown - at least not this year. The Swiss star sent packing from the all-England club Wednesday. Federer ousted at the quarterfinal rounds in the hands of Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a five-set thriller on Centre Court.
What was surprising was the fact that Federer got off to a red-hot start, winning the first two sets before Tsonga stormed back to close it out in five. Federer had been an incredible 178-0 in grand slam matches where he had won the first two sets of a five-setter. So instead of Federer moving on, it's Tsonga - a 2008 Aussie Open finalist finding his way into the last four at Wimbledon for the first time. But for the Swiss star, it is his second successive exit from the grass court tournament at the quarterfinal hurdle.
Tsonga will next face Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday's final after the native of Serbia set aside the challenge of Austrian Bernard Tomic. The 2nd seed advancing in four sets.
Rafa Nadal lost only a set in his Wednesday quarterfinal against Mardy Fish who's exit means that the U.S. is no longer represented at Wimbledon. The Majorcan will meet Andy Murray in the semi-final round for the second straight year. This after the Britain halted the challenge of Spain's Feliciano Lopez in straights.
From football, new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas rejected comparisons with his former mentor Jose Mourinho as he talked to the media at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. The 33-year-old officially unveiled at the blues' homeground before talking for the first time publicly about his plans for the future. Villas-Boas won four trophies with FC Porto in his first full season in management. The native of Portugal says he now hopes to win silverware as soon as possible with the blues. He'd better. There's plenty of pressure on a man who cost Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich 21.5 million Euros.
A world sport free of charge, I might add, is right around the corner. The Tour de France starts this coming weekend and we will chat with a cycling expert not named Jonathan Mann. This guys knows his stuff. I'm back at the bottom of the next hour right after BACKSTORY here on CNN.
You do know your cycle.
MANN: A little bit. A little bit to teach me every time. Mark McKay, thanks very much.
We'll be getting more from Becky in Athens in ten minutes. But up next - why the first lady of Georgia is taking up extra work in the delivery ward. We'll explain when our "Eye On Georgia" series continues right after this break.
MANN: A spectacular and rugged landscape with an ancient and often tumultuous history, this is Georgia - part of the gateway between Europe and central Asia.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Becky Anderson is in Athens. I'm Jonathan Mann. But first, to "Eye on Georgia".
CNN's "Eye on" series travels to a different country each month, exploring business, culture, and the way of life. So far, we've visited Ukraine, Germany, and India, and now we've got our eye on Georgia - located in the Caucasus region east of the Black Sea and south of Russia.
A couple of things you might not have known about Georgia.
It's one of the oldest Christian nations. Georgians have their own alphabet. And you might not think of Georgia as a wine-producer but scientists believes 7,000-year -old pottery jars discovered in what is now Georgia were used to store and age wine. Quite a vintage.
Georgians are fiercely proud of their heritage. To the country's first lady, Georgia is actually a home-away-from-home. By this, Paula Newton reports, she's as patriotic as anyone.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As if the pressure of pushing weren't enough for this Georgian mother, as she's in peak pain, it's the first lady of the country coaching her through labor - at her bedside, congratulating her on the fine birth, adjusting the cap on Georgia's newest citizen.
When Sandra Roelofs says Georgia is a life-changing experience, I guess we should take her seriously.
SANDRA ROELOFS, FIRST LADY OF GEORGIA: That I can see from the health care facility what is still to be done in health care reform.
NEWTON (on camera): You see it firsthand?
ROELOFS: Yes, I can see exactly. I can hear the women's stories. She couldn't afford to go to the doctor or she wasn't insured so it's very important for me to see from that point of view.
NEWTON (voice-over): But Roelofs has many other points of view as we found out on one hectic day as we followed her from the hospital to a lakeside retreat. She's an active mother of two who likes to keep fit both physically and mentally.
She founded a classical radio station Radio Muza and still hosts a radio show there. She's an accomplished translator and speaks six languages including fluent Georgian. Now, listen to why that's such a surprise.
NEWTON (on camera): You have a real passion for this country.
ROELOFS: Yes, you can say that.
NEWTON: What do you say to people who find it maybe a bit strange that think "She's Dutch! Why does she care so much?"
ROELOFS: Come to Georgia, you will understand yourself.
NEWTON (voice-over): Roelofs says the foundation she says helps her stay committed to improving the lives of Georgians especially when it comes to health care. But she is also fiercely loyal to husband President Mikhail Saakashvili, even to the point of weighing in on Georgia 2008 war with Russia, accusing Russia of still stirring things up.
ROELOFS: We don't need this kind of conflict of pressure or tensions at the borders. I mean, they have their own problems, right? Let them take care of their own big countries. Very political statement which I'm saying but that's how I feel.
NEWTON: In constitutional terms, Roelofs should only be at this another couple of years. Her husband must step down. But she hedges when asked, saying she and her husband expect to continue their work in Georgia for years to come.
ROELOFS: He has all this knowledge and all the experience and all this networks and I think Georgia should use that. They should.
NEWTON: But sometimes countries want to move on, right? It's important to have a transition of power. If the two of you start to plan for what you will do after-
ROELOFS: I think that Georgia can move on best if my husband is - or no - `til 2013 and I hope that after that, they will take his advice in whatever position it will be.
NEWTON: Roelofs says there are times she wishes she could just be a mother and raise her children out of the public eye.
NEWTON: They've already named the baby this?
ROELOFS: Yes, this is Boris Alexander.
NEWTON (voice-over): And yet this is one determined woman, a Georgian immigrant after all who somehow seems as bound to this country as fiercely nationalistic as those who are born here.
Paula Newton, CNN, Tbilisi, Georgia.
MANN: From a famous woman to early man. Georgia is home to one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Right now, experts are gathering evidence that they say challenges what's known about the evolution of man. Join Paula Newton tomorrow for a tour of the site which could unearth a hugely significant discovery - all part of our "Eye on Georgia" series.
CONNECT THE WORLD special coverage of the austerity vote in Greece continues now. We rejoin Becky Anderson on a lively night in Athens. Becky?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. It's just before midnight here in Greece. A relative calm in the square here in Athens where the parliament building sits. At the back, you see some protestors in a stand- off with the police as some gratuitous violence with some of the thugs as they can be only be described are down in the middle of the square but nothing like the rage we saw earlier on today after lawmakers passed some swingeing austerity measures or certainly a plan to swingeing austerity measures in the building behind me. Violence, as I said today earlier, what next for Greece and the European Union (INAUDIBLE) coming up straight after this short break. Stay with us. We're live in Athens.
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson with a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD live from Athens today on what has been a day of drama. Anger on the streets as parliamentarians here pushed through swingeing austerity measures, certainly the plan for which the implementation now to be voted on over the next few days. As that was going on as the vote came through though, relief across the Eurozone despite the anger here. People needed to see this happen across the Eurozone. The Greek government today said "Yes" to more austerity, approving a new round of painful budget cuts. The move was necessary to secure a bailout from international lenders. But the fallout in Athens was fierce. At times, protestors fought ugly street battles with police - some throwing stones and setting fires. Police responded with some grenades, truncheons, and tear gas.
Well, Diana Magnay caught up with some of those who have been involved in what has been re-peaceful (ph) protests. There has been ugly scenes, much of that created by a mob of what can only be described as "anarchists". Take a look at her report now as she talks to some of those who will be affected by what happens next here in Greece.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Greeks - young and old - flee the tear gas in Syntagma Square. The manner of Greek citizens prepared to face off riot police to voice their outrage at measures that affect every age group, every profession.
(on camera): We're a little over a hundred meters from where all that rioting is going on with our riot gear but it's really just like a normal day. People sitting around, strolling, having a bite to eat.
(voice-over): The Ziupis family all went to protest until their son, John, was hurt by a tear gas canister. John lost his job last year. He says with more than 35% of young people out of work, even a degree in mechanical engineering doesn't get him anywhere.
JOHN ZIUPIS, UNEMPLOYED GRADUATE: Now, you can find only like for comfort areas, security, is a job with a little money.
MAGNAY (voice-over): A gas mask here and there, faces smeared in white clean (ph) to protect against the tear gas. But plenty of tavernas open regardless of the strike to take the sting out of rioting.
Catarina Dormo (ph) and her mother opted for coffee after deciding it was too dangerous to go into the square on the day of the vote. They're both Greek citizens but our best means of communication is German. Catarina (ph) tells me she gets paid less per hour as a German teacher here than a cleaning lady would in Germany.
"I've been working as a teacher for 15 years", she says, "and I'm still getting exactly the same salary as if I just started off. They're exploiting the situation with all this unemployment. Obviously, with 500 or 600 Euros a month, you can't live."
Her mother's a pensioner. She says health care is her biggest concern these days.
"For example, if they're striking and you need the doctor," she says, "you have to go private and they say pay and you'll get it back from your health insurance. Yes, but you've got to have the money in the first place."
And they're right not to have braved the riots. Back at the square, a tense standoff continues. The shape of things to come between the people and their politicians as these unpopular measures pass through the parliament.
Diana Magnay, CNN, Athens.
ANDERSON: Well, with the economy in dire straits here, it's easy to see just how Greeks themselves are struggling and will continue to struggle in the days, months, and indeed, years ahead.
Matina Stevis is still with me. She's a financial journalist.
You were down, I know, in the square earlier on. We talked about that. What happens next?
MATINA STEVIS, FINANCIAL JOURNALIST: Well, that's the million dollar question, isn't it, or the multi-billion dollar question. There is two ways to approach this question. One is where it's a question talking about how this affects Europe, how this affects the Eurozone and the global financial system. The other question is how it affects the Greeks and how it affects this country that has a wealth of resources and so much going for it really - very well-educated workforce, excellent weather, a traditionally strong tourism. But how does this country - after all this mess - return to growth?
ANDERSON: And how do they do that? Because you talk to lawmakers here and most understand that this is an economy that needs deregulations. It needs to get to the very heart of the structural problems that Greece has but that takes time.
STEVIS: Absolutely. It took time to create the lobiason(ph) that is the Greek state. It took time to bring us to the point that we are finding ourselves today. It cannot be overturned in the course of a year or two. It takes structural reform and that's the only way you're going to see Greeks who are now - young Greeks who are leaving the country return here and invest here.
ANDERSON: Are you proud of being Greek today? I know it's a difficult question.
STEVIS: It is a difficult question. There is not a single day that I'm not proud of being Greek. And I am, in this mess, speaking for those pieces of hope that can tell me that I'm not wrong for being proud.
ANDERSON: Matina, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
STEVIS: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Matina Stevis with us (INAUDIBLE) this evening, a financial journalist who's been here, heavily-involved in what has being going on in the square below me.
It's - we've witnessed the beginning of a new chapter really - not just for Greece today but for the entire single European currency or the single - the European zone, and indeed perhaps the European project as a whole. It's faced perhaps in its current form, it's certainly less obvious than it might have been let's say a year ago.
Jim Boulden takes a look at exactly what is going on and what might happen next.
JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So Project Euro has survived to live another day. Now what? Does the Greek crisis hurt the Euro concept and therefore the dream of a united Europe under a single currency or actually strengthen it?
Doomsayers have been warning that Greece could bring down the entire dream of monetary union or at least default on its loans with huge losses to European banks. To avoid that, there are calls for Greece to be expelled from the Euro or voluntarily leave.
It's a far cry from the day nearly ten years ago when the Euro launched as a hard currency backed by a treaty that has no provisions for a country to leave the Euro.
SIMON TILFORD, CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN REFORM: I'd be careful of ruling it out completely. I think it is still unlikely.
BOULDEN: Unlikely to leave. Instead, some say, the richer countries in the Eurozone face years of simply transferring funds - not loans - to Greece. Is that politically more palatable than the messy break-up of the Euro?
TILFORD: If they face a choice between what could prove politically impossible providing ongoing transfers from the core of the Eurozone or from the rest of the Eurozone to Greece or negotiating the country's withdrawal from the Eurozone, it is not clear which way they'll jump.
BOULDEN: Leaving the Euro would only come years after pain and anguish for monetary union. Efforts by the European Central Bank in Germany to support the Euro show that there is no appetite within Europe's power brokers to break up the currency. It's now likely Greece will soon get some sort of debt relief before ever being allowed to default. The question is: will it be orderly or disorderly?
PROFESSOR KEVIN FEATHERSTONE, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: We're talking the language here of some kind of ordered, voluntary rollover by foreign banks lending to Greece.
BOULDEN: In other words, help Greece push its problems down the road a few years while building up the defences to keep Greece from infecting other countries.
MARK WALL, DEUTSCHE BANK: So the strategy that's emerging - this model three strategy - it feels just not quite right but it's an incredibly complex problem that the E.U. is trying to address. They're trying to do the maximum to help Greece but at the same time minimizing the ramifications for other countries.
BOULDEN: That delicate dance could set in motion the eventual demise of the Euro or it could actually bulletproof the currency from nearly any further shocks.
Jim Boulden, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: Well, German chancellor Angela Merkel calls the plan for these austerity measures pushed through by the Greek parliament today "very good news" but not all Germans agree. As the Eurozone's biggest economy, people living in Germany feel - certainly some of them do - that they are bearing the brunt for its neighbours' woes. Have a listen to this.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, Germany, and of course the Greek bailout is a very important political topic here in this country, not just because Germany would have to pay the largest chunk of an additional Greek bailout but also because the Euro is so important politically especially here in Germany. Most German politicians and, of course, many in the German public believe that it's projects like the Euro - projects that intertwine European countries and bond them together - that have caused the European continent to live in peace for such a very long time and of course, that is not something that they want to endanger.
At the same time, the Germans have made clear they will not foster a Euro bailout at all costs. They believe that the Greeks need to get their own house in order - in other words, with that austerity plan and that's certainly something that the German public is also calling for. A lot of people here in Germany have had to endure austerity measures over the past years and they feel now it's time for the Greeks to take a cut of their own.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: We spent an hour looking at the picture - not just in Greece today, but across the entire Eurozone. Seventeen countries are members of the Euro - the single currency here.
Richard Quest back with me this evening.
Can the Euro survive this?
RICHARD QUEST, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. On what we've shown, I think from what's happened here is the determination of Germany, France, and the European (INAUDIBLE) partners to (INAUDIBLE). But it won't be painless. There's a price to be paid for the Euro. They didn't set it up correctly. They had hoped they've had time to put it right afterwards. They didn't because of 2008. They're going to have to be fiscal union to make the Euro work.
ANDERSON: What of the European project as a whole?
QUEST: I would say it's bloodied but not dead by any means. What's happening with each stage of this - whether it's (INAUDIBLE), Lisbon, or Greece - each stage is a hard fought battle.
ANDERSON: We had a conversation last week and I said the politicians are bit players in this because of the end - in the end, the markets will decide what have - I know you disagree with me. But let's just sit back for a moment. The politicians haven't been very good, have they? They've been (INAUDIBLE) useless when it comes - there was no framework for this. There was no "get-out" clause for anybody who cheated. But the Greeks have effectively broken the rules. No way out now (INAUDIBLE).
QUEST: Because they won't accept that at some point you can't have unanimity. Nobody wants to give ground. Britain doesn't want to give ground. France doesn't want to give ground. Spain doesn't want to give ground.
ANDERSON: And that's the problem with the European project.
QUEST: Of course it is. That's why it's going to take a crisis like this. Now, they're going to give ground on fiscal union. They're going to have to or frankly, Becky, switch the lights off and let's go home.
ANDERSON: Let's not go home just yet, Richard, but thank you very much indeed.
That's it from us on this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD this evening. Thank you for watching. We've been live in Athens in what has been a real day of drama.
Jonathan Mann is up with your headlines after what our parting shot for you this evening. Good night.