Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Greece bailout: Prime minister Alexis Tsipras faces anger at home after tough Eurozone deal struck

By Europe correspondent Barbara Miller and wires Tuesday 14 July 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras talks to the media at the end of an eurozone summit over the Greek debt crisis. Photo: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras must convince parliament to back the deal by Wednesday. (AFP: Thierry Charlier)

Video: Greece bailout deal likely to be a 'tough sell' (ABC News)

Related Story: Greece clinches 86-billion-euro bailout deal to avoid 'Grexit'

Related Story: Explained: The punishing terms of Greece's bailout deal

Map: Greece

Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras could be fighting for his future after Greeks reacted strongly against a deal to keep the near-bankrupt country in the euro.

After 17 hours of negotiation, Eurozone leaders made Greece surrender much of its sovereignty in return for agreeing to talks on an 86 billion-euro bailout.

Athens will now be held to a tight timetable which will force it to enact unpopular reforms of value-added tax and pensions, make budget cuts and change bankruptcy rules.

The terms imposed by international lenders, led by Germany, obliged Mr Tsipras to abandon promises of ending austerity and could fracture his government and cause an outcry in Greece.

The deal triggered angry reactions on social media across Europe, where the Twitter hash tag #ThisIsACoup trended.

Haralambos Rouliskos, a 60-year-old economist who was out walking in Athens, described the deal as "misery, humiliation and slavery".

The Eurozone creditors "are trying to blackmail us," Katerina Katsaba, a 52-year-old working for a pharmaceutical company, said.

"Listen, it is some sort of victory but it is a Pyrrhic victory because the measures are very strict," Marianna, 73, said.

Mr Tsipras must now convince his party and parliament to back the deal by Wednesday.

He faces a tough task selling the deal to the Greek people, parliament and his radical Syriza party, which shot to power in January on the back of promises to end five years of bitter austerity under two previous bailouts.

A weary Mr Tsipras insisted the deal was good for Greece, even though analysts say the terms are in some respects tougher than those Greek voters had rejected on his recommendation in a referendum just one week ago.

If the summit on Greece's third bailout had failed, Athens would have been staring into an economic abyss with its banks on the brink of collapse and the prospect of having to print a parallel currency and exit the euro.

"Clearly the Europe of austerity has won," Greece's reform minister George Katrougalos said.

"Either we are going to accept these draconian measures or it is the sudden death of our economy through the continuation of the closure of the banks," he told BBC radio.

"So it is an agreement that is practically forced upon us."

Protesters participate in an anti-EU demonstration in Athens Photo: Protesters in Athens call for the dismissal of accords between Greece and its European creditors, and further austerity measures. (AFP: Louisa Gouliamaki)

Bailout deal a tough sell at home

To get the accord through parliament by the deadline on Wednesday, Mr Tsipras will have to rely on votes from pro-European opposition parties, raising big question marks over the future of his government.

Labour minister Panos Skourletis said the terms were unviable and would lead to new elections this year.

Left wing rebels in the Syriza party and his junior coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks party, indicated they would not tear up election pledges that brought them to power in January.

"We cannot agree to that," Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos told reporters after meeting Mr Tsipras.

"In a parliamentary democracy there are rules and we uphold them."

'A new Versailles Treaty'

In his first interview since resigning as Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis took aim at Greece's creditors, revealed the extent of the country's preparations to leave the euro and warned of the rise of the far right.

Greece's public servants are being called to stage a 24-hour strike for Wednesday, the first since Mr Tsipras took power.

Malta's prime minister Joseph Muscat said Greece had been "humiliated", mostly as a result of its refusal to take an offer made to it two weeks ago and he said the talks had been brutal. "It was not pretty to watch," he said.

The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis told ABC radio's Late Night Live program that Mr Tsipras was being made to pay for his stance against the politics of austerity.

In his first interview since his dramatic resignation, Mr Varoufakis described the deal as the "politics of humiliation".

"This has nothing to do with economics. It has nothing to do with putting Greece on the way to recovery. This is a new Versailles Treaty that is haunting Europe again, and the prime minister knows it. He knows that he's damned if he does and he's damned if he doesn't."

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker dismissed suggestions that Mr Tsipras had been humiliated even though the summit statement insisted repeatedly that Greece must now subject much of its public policy to prior agreement by bailout monitors.

"In this compromise, there are no winners and no losers," Mr Juncker said.

"I don't think the Greek people have been humiliated, nor that the other Europeans have lost face. It is a typical European arrangement."

"The agreement was laborious, but it has been concluded. There is no Grexit."

Europe's first step will be to push the deal through several national parliaments, many in countries that are loath to afford Greece more help.

Germany's Bundestag is likely to vote on Friday, provided the Greek parliament rushes through four new reform laws by Wednesday.

A woman burns the flag of the ruling party Syriza, surrounded by journalists, in front of the Greek parliament in Athens Photo: A woman burns the flag of the Alexis Tsipras' Syriza party during a demonstration in Athens on Monday. (AFP: Louisa Gouliamaki)


From other news sites:

Greece bailout: Prime minister Alexis Tsipras faces anger at home after tough Eurozone deal struck - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)