IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Greece Bailout Deal: Crisis Leaves Country Running Out of Fruit

As politicians announced an agreement had been reached over cash-strapped Greece, its people continued to feel the harsh effects of the crisis.
Image: Menelaos Tzouris
Greek fruit importer Menelaos Tzouris.Smith, Alexander (206418009)

ATHENS — As politicians ended a sleepless night of negotiations with the announcement of another bailout agreement for cash-strapped Greece, business owners like Menelaos Tzouris said a solution could not come soon enough.

Tzouris, a fruit importer in the capital Athens, said that the ongoing impasse — which has left millions of Greeks without access to cash in their bank accounts — was having a detrimental impact on his livelihood.

Greece's low rainfall and largely poor soil mean many items have to be grown elsewhere and imported — particularly in the summer months. Tzouris said purchasing imported crops had become virtually impossible "because we cannot make bank transfers" to pay suppliers.

Greek fruit importer Menelaos Tzouris.Smith, Alexander (206418009)

The Greek government imposed such restrictions and shut banks as the country teetered on financial collapse.

"We cannot buy apples, we cannot buy anything that is imported at the moment," he told NBC News outside his store in the Greek capital.

There were crates of fruit currently on ships on their way to Greek ports, he said, but suppliers have warned him and others that unless they can pay the vessels will be directed elsewhere.

"It's a ticking bomb … it's a time bomb. We want to think positively. Hopefully a solution will be found and capital controls will be withdrawn," Tzouris said before Monday's deal was announced. "But if this doesn't happen, we are going to be facing shortages for sure."

For Nikos Kasapopoulus, a 39-year-old ship worker at a port near the city, the deal being thrashed out by European leaders was "bad but necessary."

Kasapopoulus said he felt that the Greek people had "no power … other people take decisions."

As the country held its breath, Kasapopoulus said that business had slowed, with "people waiting to see what's happening, to see if our banks are OK and if they are opening."

Another worker at the port, 34-year-old Vagelis Pagadakis, said the negotiations were a "a big game…a very dangerous game."

Pagadakis, who works on a ship's bar, said he was positive about the prospect of Greece staying in the euro currency "because if we go out of the euro we will have big problems in the economy."