After Tense Negotiations For Bailout, Will Greek Parliament Fall In Line?
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And let's turn now to the other big deal that was reached this week. The Greek parliament today is debating reforms it needs to pass for the country to get a bailout from European creditors. The new bailout package that was agreed to could keep Greece in the eurozone, but the prime minister who supports it is already facing a backlash, as Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens.
JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras emerged from this weekend's marathon talks looking ashen and defeated. With banks closed and Greece almost out of cash, eurozone leaders cornered the young leftist politician, and he signed a severe austerity deal in exchange for more bailout loans. He told reporters in Brussels that he had fought as hard as he could.
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PRIME MINISTER ALEXIS TSIPRAS: (Through interpreter) We face tough decisions, tough dilemmas. We are responsible for agreeing to these decisions, but we did so to block the most extreme measures from being implemented - measures being pushed by the most extreme conservative forces in the European Union.
KAKISSIS: These extreme measures, Tsipras said, included transferring the stewardship of Greek state assets to a fund in Luxembourg. But back home, the sense of defeat was clear, especially to Tsipras' Syriza party. Anastasia Yamali is a regional politician and a journalist with the Syriza affiliated newspaper Avgi. She says eurozone leaders never negotiated in good faith with Syriza.
ANASTASIA YAMALI: They did the best for Syriza to fail, for Syriza to be discredited, for Tsipras to seem as if he's a traitor of the anti-austerity dream.
KAKISSIS: Tassos Tagaris, a 46-year-old medical informatics researcher, watched the news of the deal in his living room. He says it seems like European leaders want to remove Tsipras from office.
TASSOS TAGARIS: I think it's the only way to explain why they asked from the government to accept all these measures. And there's no logic way to understand or to see a future through these measures they proposed.
KAKISSIS: The prime minister's own labor minister, Panos Skourletis, even told a Greek news show that he expects early elections this year.
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PANOS SKOURLETIS: (Through interpreter) This is a government that is losing its majority. This is a government that believes, says and supports very different things than it's forced to implement. This situation cannot go on for very long.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).
KAKISSIS: Protests against the government have already begun. A few hundred people gathered outside Parliament Monday night, burning the red flag of Syriza and holding banners painted with anti-European Union slogans. Dmitiris Karapetis (ph), an 18-year-old college student, says Syriza should resign.
DMITRIS KARAPETIS: (Through translator) I mean, they held a referendum about austerity, and 62 percent of Greeks voted against it. And yet a few days later, 80 percent of Parliament voted for more austerity and a new bailout. They overturned the mandate of the people.
KAKISSIS: But Yamali, the journalist and Syriza politician, says she hopes the party can remain united in this rough time. She chokes up as she explains the tough path ahead.
YAMALI: My heart is aching that we will have to implement austerity measures for the - that we will have to betray some of the people that voted for us. But I think that in the end, we will do our best. So we will keep on fighting to represent them the way we promised.
KAKISSIS: Syriza's parliamentary group is discussing the new austerity measures today. Parliament must approve them by tomorrow.
GREENE: That was Joanna Kakissis reporting from Athens on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.