News / Europe

Greece Reaches Accord on Austerity Demands

Greece's Prime Minister Lucas Papademos (L) escorts Socialist leader George Papandreou (C), conservative party leader Antonis Samaras (3rd L) and Far-right leader George Karatzaferis (2nd R) at his office in Athens, February 8, 2012.
Greece's Prime Minister Lucas Papademos (L) escorts Socialist leader George Papandreou (C), conservative party leader Antonis Samaras (3rd L) and Far-right leader George Karatzaferis (2nd R) at his office in Athens, February 8, 2012.

Greek lawmakers say they have reached an accord on austerity measures demanded by international lenders so the country can secure another bailout and avoid defaulting next month on its financial obligations.

After an all-night negotiating session that ended early Thursday, Greek political leaders remained deadlocked on the extent of pension cuts for retirees, while agreeing to trim the country's minimum wage by 22 percent and eliminate 15,000 government jobs.

Hours later, however, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and his coalition partners announced they had found an unspecified, alternative way to pare government spending, marking a key turning point after weeks of negotiations with Greece's creditors.

Related video by Mil Arcega:


Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos headed to a Brussels meeting with other European finance ministers to plead the debt-ridden country's case to win their approval for a new $172 billion bailout, the country's second in two years. Greece says it needs the aid package from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in order to avoid defaulting on $19 billion in bond payments due in March.

EU Economic Commissioner Olli Rehn said Greece will have to convince the finance chiefs it is serious about economic reform.

"We have a staff level agreement now and I am sure the ministers will thoroughly scrutinize this agreement and it's up to the Greek government by concrete actions through legislation, and other actions to convince its European partners that the second program can be made to work," he said.

The Athens government is also completing negotiations with private lenders to cut in half the amount it owes them, a $132 billion reduction. Under the revised financing of the country's debt, 32 large financial institutions would lose 70 percent of their Greek investment.

European leaders have grown impatient with Greece's protracted negotiations over its debt, with financial analysts voicing fears that a default could plunge the global economy into a new recession. Meanwhile, Greek leaders have faced widespread opposition at home from workers angered by earlier austerity measures. Unions called for more work stoppages on Friday and Saturday to protest the latest budget-cutting plan.

Even with the agreement on more austerity, Greece remains in a precarious financial state. It is in the fifth year of a recession. The government says the country's unemployment rate is increasing and nearly reached 21 percent in November.

Meanwhile, the continent's central bank kept its benchmark lending rate at the record low rate of 1 percent, in an effort to spur economic growth. The bank has kept the rate low as the 17-nation bloc that uses the euro currency faces a stalled economy and is possibly headed to a recession.

Bank chief Mario Draghi says Europe's economy remains threatened.

"Based on our regular economic and monetary analysis we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. the information that has become available since January, broadly confirms our previous assessment. Inflation is likely to stay above 2 percent for several months to come before declining to below 2 percent. Available survey indicators confirms some tentative signs of stabilization in economic activity at low level around the turn of the year. The economic outlook remains subject to high uncertainty and downside risks," said Draghi.

Draghi rejected the idea that the central bank assume losses on the Greek debt it holds. But he said the bank could return some of its profits on the Greek bonds to the countries supporting the institution.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid