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Eurozone finance ministers back third Greek bailout
The French finance minister spoke just hours after Greek lawmakers endorsed a new bailout package after a long debate, which will require Athens to enact tough and unpopular reforms in return for another loan.
The Eurozone decision saved Greece from the default on its debts and helped to avoid its exit from the single currency Eurozone.
The deal must still be approved by parliaments in several European countries to go ahead – notably in Germany, Europe’s effective paymaster, where lawmakers are set to vote on Wednesday.
“On this basis, Greece is and will irreversibly remain a member of the Euro area”, said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker after the deal was sealed.
The bailout bill passed through the parliament thanks to support from opposition parties, with 222 votes in favor, 64 against, 11 abstentions and three absent in the 300-member parliament.
The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras completed its abrupt about-face by accepting even more restrictive austerity terms from the rest of the eurozone last month after a July 5 referendum rejected worldwide creditors’ demands for austerity measures.
This will help cover an August 20th repayment owed to the European Central Bank to the tune of €3.2 Billion.
For its part, the International Monetary Fund answered that question in a statement released on Thursday night, reiterating its stance that it would “make an assessment of its participation in providing any additional financing to Greece once the steps on the authorities’ program and debt relief have been taken, expected at the time of the first review of the ESM program”. In five years, Greek GDP has fallen by 25 percent, salaries have withered and a quarter of the workforce is unemployed.
But the vote laid bare the depth of anger within Mr Tsipras’s leftist Syriza party at austerity measures as 43 lawmakers – or almost a third of Syriza deputies – voted against the bailout deal or abstained.
The German Bundestag could vote on the Greek bailout as soon as Tuesday, following the eurozone’s approval.
“After the changes in the government and the crises that we had, the cooperation with let’s say the changed Greek government is very constructive, very well organised”, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch minister who chaired the meeting, told reporters.
A senior law-maker, Makis Voridis, from the Opposition New Democracy party said his party would not vote in favour of the government, raising the odds that Mr Tsipras’s coalition could be toppled.
Greek MPs backed the deal on Friday morning after a marathon all-night session marked by procedural delays and often angry exchanges in parliament.
The deal means new loans of up to €86bn will be made available over the next three years.
EU officials estimate Greece needs 23 billion euros this month alone to service debts as well as to provide about 10 billion euros to recapitalize Greek banks ravaged by economic turmoil and the imposition of capital controls in June.