Greece begins debating bailout, clashes outside parliament

Greek lawmakers began voting for key legislative bills to unlock aid, whilst protests grow outside parliament

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Greek parliament created an uproar in Athens on Wednesday, with Greek police clashing with protesters as the debate began in parliament to pass legislation that will provide over 86 billion euros ($94 billion) of new aid and heavy austerity measures.

Riot police entered the scene where protests were growing, they fired tear gas in Syntagma Square, located right across the Greek parliament at around 9:15pm.

The EU agreed for official bailout programme negotiations for Greece on the condition that the Greek government pass four key legislative bills in parliament by July 15, including the restructuring of value added tax, broadening the tax base, and radical reformation within the pension system and radical reduction of government spending.

Greek lawmakers are expected to vote on the bills by midnight.

The protests demonstrate the challenges Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces back at home, including from his own supporters and the leftist faction of his Syriza party which criticised the new bailout programme for further austerity measures.

Syriza leader and Vice President of European Parliament Dimitris Papadimoulis condemned the pressure put on Greece to seal a deal.

Papadimoulis on his personal Twitter account said, "The Taliban are demanding the humiliation of the country."

The Syriza’s parliamentary speaker, Nikos Filis went even further by complaining, "Greece is being waterboarded by euro-area leaders."

Greek citizens overwhelmingly voted ‘’no’’ on July 5 to reject bailout propositions from its international lenders, showing defiance that may split Europe.

Over 60 percent of Greeks have dismissed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) and international creditors bailout propositions and harsh austerity measures in a nation-wide referendum.

For millions of Greeks, the outcome was a furious response to the creditors who imposed harsh austerity measures that has led to Greece receiving two massive bailouts worth over 240 billion euros and the current situation pointing to another economic contraction. Unemployment has doubled since 2009 and sits at 25.6 percent, with pensions and benefits nearly halved over the course of the last four years.

However, the terms of the new bailout plan are much harsher than the ones rejected by the Greeks less than two weeks ago, which causes anger and frustration among people.  

Police anticipate larger crowds in the following hours, they expect over 13,000 protesters to gather in front of parliament at Syntagma Square, Greek police spokesman Takis Papapetropoulos said.

The vote will result in a landmark decision for Greece to unlock new aid for the country.

In the meantime, Greek banks will remain closed till at least the day after the parliament votes for bailout underpinning votes, the Greek Finance Ministry said on Monday.

Capital controls, issued on June 29, are still in place throughout the country with ATM withdrawals limited to €60 ($66) per account daily, as immense withdrawals threatened to collapse the banking system.

TRTWorld and agencies