News / Economy

Eurozone Nears Deal on Lifeline for Greece

Greece's Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras talks to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (R) during a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels July 8, 2013.
Greece's Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras talks to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (R) during a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels July 8, 2013.
Reuters
With fresh promises from Greece to redouble its reform efforts to keep international financial aid flowing, eurozone finance ministers will decide on Monday if Athens gets the cash it needs all at once or by drip feed.
 
There will also be warning shots to Portugal to ensure that its economic reforms stay on track despite political stress.
 
After more than three years on a lifeline from Europe, Greece's governing coalition is split over how to meet the demands of its bailout program, putting the country center stage and threatening to reignite the eurozone debt crisis.
 
But a week of talks in Athens, culminating in promises to reform the public sector, appeared to convince the troika of international lenders - the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank - that Greece is committed to rebuilding its economy.
 
That paves the way for Greece to receive 8.1 billion euros ($10.5 billion) as part of its 240-billion euro rescue package, although ministers meeting in Brussels may split up the cash into installments to force through unpopular reforms ranging from sacking public workers to selling state assets.
 
“If we get proof that Greece is living up to everything, then Greece will get its money,” Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden told reporters as he arrived at the meeting.
 
In Athens, thousands of Greek municipal workers and state school teachers took to the streets to protest against the public sector layoffs that the government has promised in exchange for the funds.
 
In a cautiously worded statement, the troika said it believed Greece can meet targets on reforming its economy. “Important progress continues to be made,” the statement said, cautioning of an 'uncertain' outlook.
 
Greek officials said on Sunday the troika agreed to give Athens more time to make staff cuts and that 25,000 state workers must be moved into a so-called mobility scheme by the end of 2013 - to be transferred or laid off within a year.
 
Among the most upbeat of the ministers was France's Pierre Moscovici, who signaled money could be paid by the end of the month. “The basis exists for a political accord,” he said.
 
Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was more wary. Officials earlier told Reuters that Berlin was unlikely to support a full disbursement to Greece on Monday.
 
Schaeuble is mindful that his boss, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is seeking a third term in elections on Sept. 22 and wants to avoid being seen at home as too generous to spendthrift countries.
 
“The path for Greece will remain a difficult one. I would warn against any illusions,” Schaeuble told reporters. “It is far from the case that all problems are resolved.”
 
Olli Rehn, the EU's commissioner in charge of economic affairs, confirmed on Friday that the next tranche may be paid in installments, which would be conditional on Athens meeting so-called milestones on Greek reforms, such as cutting state jobs.
 
'Minefield'
 
Eurozone finance ministers, accompanied by ECB President Mario Draghi and IMF head Christine Lagarde, will also deliver a firm message to Portugal that last week's political instability must not derail its plan to return to the debt market in 2014.
 
Officials are concerned that more upheaval could upset Lisbon's efforts to leave a 78-billion-euro bailout program as the country's bond yields topped eight percent last week, a level seen as making new borrowing unaffordable.
 
Vitor Gaspar, the architect of Portugal's austerity drive under the bailout, resigned last week, citing a lack of public support for cuts into welfare benefits and tax hikes. Unemployment is at a record high of nearly 18 percent.
 
Hoping to end a rift that threatened to bring down the government, Portugal's prime minister promoted the head of the junior coalition party to be his deputy.
 
“The ministers will give Portugal the message that the country should stick to its obligations,” said a eurozone official, who added that the country had funds that give it, unlike Greece, some room for maneuver.
 
Portugal's new finance minister, Maria Luis Albuquerque, is a familiar face to the eurozone ministers, having earlier attended their meetings as an official.
 
But the events are being followed with unease by the ECB. Draghi told lawmakers in the European Parliament that Portugal should not “unravel the progress” that it had made.
 
It has also worried some economists in Ireland, which is due to return to normal market borrowing and exit its bailout program in coming months.
 
“The problems of Portugal and Greece keep on coming back to haunt us,” said John Fitzgerald of the Economic and Social Research Institute, a Dublin-based think tank. “With the crisis not put to bed, we are walking in a minefield.”

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8982
JPY
USD
122.88
GBP
USD
0.6363
CAD
USD
1.2374
INR
USD
63.836

Rates may not be current.