The leftwing Syriza government was elected last January on an anti-austerity manifesto but after months of horse-trading with its European neighbors and lenders over getting more financial aid, Syriza leader and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was forced to concede defeat and sign up to a third bailout last summer, despite the majority of Greeks voting "no" to more austerity.
Tsipras' hesitation over a third bailout (and, no doubt, his angry denunciations of lenders) actually made the situation worse as lenders imposed heavier reform and spending cut demands on Greece amid concerns from many euro zone countries - wary of rising anger from taxpayers over yet another Greek "rescue" - that it was not going to abide by its bailout conditions.
As well as cutting public spending in key sectors (such as defense) significantly, lenders have demanded that Greece reach a primary budget surplus (when government revenues are higher than spending, excluding Greece's debt interest payments) target of 3.5 percent by 2018 – with the idea that the surplus is used to reduce Greece debt.
Lenders also demanded an overhaul of the taxation system and widespread labor market and pension reform, reversing previously generous public sector pensions and raising the retirement age.
Now largely beholden to lenders and heavily indebted, Greece's debt to GDP is over a whopping 180 percent – making it one of the most indebted nations in the world. It has made the question of Greek debt a divisive issue for lenders.
So much so that a participant in Greece's two previous bailouts, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is still undecided over whether to participate in the latest aid program. In particular, the IMF is at odds with other lenders over the demands on Greece (such as the high primary budget surplus target) and it has called on Brussels to reduce Greece's debt load to a sustainable level.
Meanwhile, unemployment remains around 23.3 percent at the last count in April (the highest in the European Union) and the economy is crawling out of recession, trying to raise investment and growth.
Still, there is reason to hope. Last Friday, Greece reported a surprise 0.3 percent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter, far surpassing expectations for a contraction of 0.2 percent. It also revised its first quarter figures, reporting a 0.1 percent decline rather than the previously reported 0.5 percent fall. Still, on an year-by-year basis the economy is contracting, by 0.7 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.
Kyrimlis noted that the Greek economy was "like a 60 year old man – it keeps walking but you know it won't run...plus there is huge hatred from people in the private sector towards state employees," he said, alluding to the perception that public sector workers have been treated too generously by the state.
"In small cities you walk and you see people over 60 and below 20," Kyrimlis noted. "It seems like my generation has vanished...indeed 400,000 have left Greece since 2007 (and these were) the brightest people" he noted.