Greek lawmakers finally voted through the country’s third international bailout yesterday after a bitter all-night debate, hours before European finance ministers were due to meet to approve the deal with Germany digging in its heels.
As Eurogroup ministers gathered in Brussels to rubberstamp the 85 billion euro (US$95 billion) rescue plan, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned that any German bid to palm off his debt-ridden country with a bridging loan rather than a new deal would be “a return to a crisis without end.”
Tsipras appealed to other EU countries to reject the alternative solution that Germany was suggesting, which he said would only prolong the agony.
“It is what certain people have been looking for systematically, and we have a responsibility to avert that, not to facilitate it,” the embattled prime minister told the parliament after a day and night of heated debate on drastic austerity measures that have deeply divided his SYRIZA party.
Athens needs to unlock bailout funds before a 3.4 billion euro repayment to the European Central Bank falls due on Aug. 20.
A majority of 222 lawmakers approved the 400-page draft deal with 64 voting against, including 40 from Tsipras’ own leftist party ranks.
Outspoken former Greek minister of finance Yanis Varoufakis and other senior SYRIZA cadres refused to support the three-year deal, which the prime minister has previously warned would force him to call early elections.
Tsipras said that failure to ratify the deal would enable Germany to push forward its proposal for a bridging loan.
However, Berlin, Europe’s paymaster, insists it needs further clarifications from Greece before giving the deal the nod.
Facing down critics in his own party, Tsipras told members of parliament: “I prefer compromise to the heroic dance of Zalongo” — a reference to a notorious 19th-century mass suicide in northern Greece when a group of women and children jumped to their deaths rather than submit to the Ottoman governor Ali Pasha.
His government “had taken on the responsibility to continue the fight, rather than commit suicide and then go running to other international forums saying it wasn’t fair that we had to kill ourselves,” he added.
Tsipras had said there was no choice but to agree to the painful cuts and sell-offs demanded by its international creditors “to assure the country’s ability to survive and keep on fighting.”
The vote was originally set for late Thursday, but was held up by procedural wrangling from hardline Greek Parliamentary Speaker Zoe Constantopoulou, who termed the bailout unconstitutional.
“Every corner and beauty of Greece is being sold... The government is giving the keys to the troika along with sovereignty and national assets,” she said, referring to the country’s creditors — the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF.
The highly charged clashes on the deal began in parliamentary committees on Thursday, with debate raging on for nine hours through the night in the full chamber.
Now the drama moves to Brussels where eurozone finance ministers are expected to issue their verdict on the draft deal reached by Athens and officials from the creditors after weeks of negotiations.
German Deputy Minister of Finance Jens Spahn sounded a note of caution about the prospects of a final deal there, saying Berlin and Paris still had questions on Greece’s plans to privatize parts of its economy.
The Greek government had “come a long way,” showing a “high degree of willingness to reform,” Spahn said.
However, “we need more details in some areas. That is what we need to talk about — by the way we have a joint proposal from France and Germany,” he added, without giving details.
German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert has said that in the event of a thumbs-up from Greek lawmakers and the Eurogroup of finance ministers, the German parliament will convene an extraordinary session on Tuesday or Wednesday to vote on the bailout.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that