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Greece passes austerity measures on night of anguish

16th Jul 2015
Greece passes austerity measures on night of anguish

By Magda Panoutsopoulou

ATHENS (AA): The Greek parliament approved a bill of tough measures and economic reforms early Thursday morning in a vote that split the ruling Syriza coalition.

The harsh austerity package proposed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, aimed at satisfying the country’s European creditors and securing a three-year bailout worth 85 billion euros ($93 billion), was greeted with violent protests on the streets of Athens.

Lawmakers voted 229-64 to implement further spending cuts and tax hikes but the vote was largely supported by pro-European opposition parties as 38 members of Tsipras’ left-wing coalition voted against the measures. They included Parliament Speaker Zoi Konstantopoulou and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Later on Thursday, the finance ministers of the eurozone are due to hold a conference call on fresh financing for Greece and the European Central Bank is to consider a request for increased help for the country’s troubled banks, which have been closed since June 29.

The vote was preceded by a demonstration outside parliament with some protesters attacking police, breaking windows and torching cars. Police responded to youths throwing stones and petrol bombs with tear gas and baton charges and around 50 were arrested.

Tsipras, who proposed the bill despite his personal opposition to the austerity measures, said he felt negotiations with the Eurogroup of finance ministers had left behind a “heritage of self-respect and democracy in Europe. This planting will bear fruit in Europe at some point.”

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos added: “It’s too early to judge the agreement because a lot will depend on what will happen at a political level in Europe.”

 

[Photo: Riot police forces clash with protesters in front of the Greek Parliament during an anti-austerity demonstration in Athens on July 15, 2015. Photographer: Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency]

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