Pro-Euro rally in Athens as PM due to present reform plan to save country from potential ‘Grexit’
ATHENS – A couple of thousands of Greeks rallied in front of the parliament in Athens on Thursday (July 9) to support Europe as the government prepared a reform plan meant to convince European partners to give it another loan to save it from a possible exit from the euro zone.
The rally was much smaller that the pro-Euro and anti-austerity protests in the week before the (July 5) referendum when 60 percent of Greeks voted to reject the last proposals whilst saying they wanted to stay in the euro zone.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras chaired a long cabinet meeting to finalise the package of tax hikes and pension reforms to send to euro zone authorities in a race to secure agreement at the weekend on a third financial rescue.
The leader of his junior coalition partner, Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, told reporters the Greek proposal had been approved by the cabinet and would be submitted shortly.
Germany conceded on Thursday that Greece would need some debt restructuring as part of any new loan programme to make its economy viable.
Greece has already had two bailouts worth 240 billion euros from the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund, but its economy has shrunk by a quarter, unemployment is more than 25 percent and one in two young people is out of work.
Failure to reach a deal on Sunday, including releasing some money to enable Athens to cover debt service over the next few weeks could lead to a collapse of Greek banks next week.
“The government must agree with our European partners so as not to lead the country into chaos. The more we delay, the worse things get,” said Michalis Niarchakos, an 18-year old student who lives in the UK.
“Absolutely. Absolutely. Exactly for the reason I told you before. Because we are a small country, just 3 percent, we must understand that we can’t blackmail Europe,” said Nikos Liaskos, a 65-year old economist.
“I feel that I am a European citizen and I want us to remain in Europe. I want my life to continue as normal and know that things will be hard. I don’t think others don’t respect us. I don’t think we have enemies. I don’t think there are conspiracies. We should all discuss and find what brings us together rather than what divides us,” said 50-year-old insurance sales woman, Maria Nikolau.
As the rally began to disperse the government said it would seek parliamentary approval on Friday (July 10) to negotiate on the text of prior actions leaving the door open to a vote in parliament as early as Friday.
A source said there would be one vote on whether to authorize the government to use the text as a basis for talks. The prior actions would then have to be approved again by a final vote in parliament at a later point.
“This is a move to show that the government has the political will to proceed with implementing the promised reforms but without making any unilateral move before a Eurogroup meeting,” the source said. -Reuters