Jan. 1 -Greeks hope 2014 will be better, as the austerity-weary country celebrates New Year's Eve with fireworks over Acropolis hill. Rough Cut. (No Reporter Narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: Dazzling fireworks lit the sky above Acropolis signalling the the beginning of 2014, as Athens residents celebrated New Year's Eve. Hundreds of city residents defied the cold to watch the Athens Philharmonic and other popular musicians perform holiday carols and pop songs against the backdrop of a brightly lit Parthenon in one of Athens's most beloved pedestrian streets. Amid the festive atmosphere and spectacular fireworks, Greeks said they were longing for a better 2014 after the hardships of 2013. Greece has been kept financially afloat by the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund since 2010 in exchange for severe spending cuts and reforms, including increased taxes, state job layoffs, reduced wages and pensions, and cuts to social, health, and pay benefits. Thousands of businesses closed or posted losses due to a dive in consumption, forcing layoffs in the private sector as well. Unemployment remains steady at 27 percent, living standards have dropped, while poverty has risen over 20 percent. The government received approval for another one billion euro loan from its international lenders last week. The government projects a return to growth next year and the end to a six-year recession. Its goal is to reach a primary surplus this year, which it says it will use to help the needy but Greeks say they are wary of the government's promises.