News / Europe

Greek PM: Survival at Stake in Bailout Negotiations

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou says his country's survival is at stake, as he tries to secure an economic rescue package fiercely opposed by Greek unions.

Greek negotiators are nearing a final deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund said to be worth $160 billion to help lift Greece from a crippling debt crisis.

Mr. Papandreou told parliament Friday that Greece will have to take certain economic measures to secure its future.

Greek union officials oppose the deal, which they say calls for Greece to raise taxes and freeze wages for government workers.

Police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters rallying against the austerity measures outside Greece's finance ministry late Thursday.

More protests are planned on Labor Day, which is Saturday, while unions have called for a general strike on May 5.

The head of the European Commission says he is confident an emergency aid package will keep the crisis from further threatening the financial health of other EU nations.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing Friday, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said measures to contain the crisis will be in place in the coming days.

Greek stocks and the euro rose in trading following the news that a deal may be near.

Politicians and investors are worried that economic problems could spread if Greece fails to pay back its debt.  Those concerns grew earlier this week, when a key credit rating agency, Standard and Poor's, downgraded its credit ratings of Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Bloomberg and Reuters.

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