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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs