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Greek PM determined to finalize bailout deal ahead of new crash test vote
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appeared determined to finalize the third bailout deal in August, government sources said on Wednesday, a few hours before a new crash test vote in the parliament on the second set of prior actions requested by creditors.
Addressing the assembly during the debate, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos stressed that the goal was to have the final agreement sealed on time so that Greece can meet with no delay a bond repayment to the European Central Bank (ECB) on Aug. 20.
On Monday, with the support of a bridge loan by lenders, the country repaid a maturing bond to ECB and overdue loan installments to International Monetary Fund, exiting the arrears status.
The Greek Leftist leader has repeatedly stressed lately that the debt deal struck ten days ago is the only viable solution to keep Greece afloat and in the eurozone.
However, the tough terms of the deal that foresees further austerity measures and reforms, have triggered strong reactions even within his Radical Left SYRIZA party.
A week ago, when the parliament voted on the deal and the first round of prerequisites to unlock international funding, 39 lawmakers from SYRIZA's 149-member strong parliamentary group voted against or abstained and Tsipras had to rely on the support of pro-euro opposition parties.
On Wednesday night, lawmakers are to vote on a draft bill to approve the EU Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) that guarantees bank deposits up to 100,000 euros in cases of failed banks as well as a civil justice reform designed to reduce time and costs in legal proceedings.
The civil justice reform has been met with skepticism by several lawmakers and law experts, amid concern that it could ease the foreclosures of homes.
Political analysts in Athens warned that in case the two-partite coalition government with the Right-wing Independent Greeks which holds 162 seats in the 300-member strong chamber since the January national polls, misses the 120 seat threshold in Wednesday's vote, the premier could not keep going for long without parliamentary majority.
The hardliners within SYRIZA who have openly argued in favor of return to drachma, have stressed that they support the government, but will keep voting against the conditions of the "humiliating" debt deal.
New government spokesperson Olga Gerovassilis has admitted in comments to Greek local radio station Alpha that a possible rift within SYRIZA was "most likely inevitable."
She underlined that the premier had no intention to call early general elections soon, because the top priority today was to allow the country to return to normality after the three-week banks closure.
Greek banks reopened on Monday and in a first positive reaction Standard & Poor's rating agency upgraded Greece's sovereign credit rating from CCC- to CCC+, noting that the country's liquidity perspective improved after the recent deal.
However, labor unions hold a different view on the debt deal and have organized a new rally against it for Wednesday evening. As the plenary will be debating the second set of prior actions, the umbrella union of civil servants ADEDY will hold a demonstration outside the parliament in central Athens.
[Source: By Maria Spiliopoulou, Xinhua, Athens, 22Jul15]
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