Greece gets its deal
Avoids financial collapse and euro exit
After grueling, often angry negotiations that tested the limits of European unity, Greece on Monday won a preliminary deal that averts financial catastrophe but also guarantees years more of hardship and sacrifice for its people.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras flew home to sell the plan to skeptical lawmakers and political allies, some of whom accused him of putting Greece at the mercy of its foreign creditors.
To close the deal with its partners in the euro currency, Greece had to consent to a raft of austerity measures, including sales tax hikes and reforms to pensions and the labour market.
Enough of Greece’s 18 eurozone partners were openly suspicious of its sincerity that they demanded, and got, Tsipras’s commitment to accept close international oversight.
For the Greek leader and his radical left-wing government, which since election in January had vowed to stand up to the creditors, the payoff of the marathon negotiations in Brussels was clear: about 85 billion euros ($95.07 billion) in loans and financial support over three years, preserving Greek membership in the euro, and helping their country stave off financial collapse.
“We managed to avoid the most extreme measures,” Tsipras said after the summit.
Tsipras said he successfully got creditors to drop a demand that Greek assets be transferred abroad as a form of collateral, and that the deal reached was less harsh than proposals from creditors his country’s voters rejected a week ago.
But in many cases, ordinary Greeks now face tougher measures than those they voted down in a nationwide referendum. Syriza’s Left Platform, a group of traditionalists in Tsipras’s own party, swiftly denounced the agreement he had reached with fellow eurozone leaders as the “worst deal possible ... that maintains the country’s status: a debt colony under a German-run European Union.”
After flying home to Athens, Tsipras went to the prime minister’s office to meet with Fi- nance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and other top party officials. To abide by the agreement and ensure that negotiations on a new infusion of financial aid for Greece can start in earnest, Tsipras must push several unpalatable measures through Parliament by Wednesday.
Passage appears assured, though he faces an uphill battle to persuade members of his own party, as well as his governing coalition partner, a small right-wing party, to back the deal.
Greece needs another bailout, its third in five years, to dig itself from under a mountain of debt and get its economy back on its feet after a six-year depression. Following months of talks with its euro- zone partners and other international creditors, its economy is teetering on the brink of collapse — banks have been shut for two weeks and daily business has almost ground to a halt.
Greece will now be on a tight timetable to implement the new reforms — another reflection of how little its creditors trust the government to honour a deal. Both sides in Brussels acknowledged the bitterness that marked their negotiations, which lasted nine hours past a Sunday midnight deadline.
“Trust needs to be rebuilt,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding that with the Monday deal, “Greece has a chance to return to the path of growth.”
A bank employee distributes tag queue positions to elderly people to enter into the bank to withdraw a maximum of 120 euros ($134) for the week in central Athens, Monday.