NEWS

Athens awaits green light on aid from Eurogroup after protest

TAGS: Economy, Politics

Greece expects to get the green light from Thursday’s Eurogroup summit for a much-needed bailout tranche of 7.5 billion euros that is expected to be disbursed next week.

The board of directors of the eurozone bailout fund ESM will agree tomorrow to disburse the money which will be paid out early next week, Reuters cited EU officials as saying on Wednesday.

The government has been keen to play up the successful completion of its bailout review, and the upcoming release of the pending funds, as the austerity measures it has legislated in recent weeks begin to bite.

A political row over an anti-government, anti-austerity protest that took place on Wednesday night escalated ahead of the rally with both government and opposition officials intensifying their rhetoric.

Education Minister Nikos Filis, whose claim that the rally was “bordering on the unconstitutional” had fueled controversy, insisted on Wednesday that the “Resign” movement was being guided by the political opposition.

Filis also differentiated the Resign movement from the Indignants who camped in Syntagma Square in the summer of 2011, describing the latter as “a European movement against austerity and in favor of democracy” while dismissing the former as being “in the pocket” of the political opposition.

Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis struck a milder tone, noting that “it is not right to put labels on demonstrations.”
Addressing Parliament earlier in the day, conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis accused the government of driving the recession with its policies and sowing division in society.

“As long as you continue with the dead-end policies of overtaxing, which has led the middle class to despair, the protests against your government will grow,” Mitsotakis said.

Mitsotakis also declared that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would be responsible for the safety of the public attending the Resign rally after anti-establishment protesters called a counter-rally which was later canceled.

Mitsotakis’s comments came during a debate in the House on a growth bill that was later voted into law. There had been vehement protests in Parliament earlier in the day over an amendment that was tagged to the bill at the last minute.

The amendment was submitted late Tuesday and concerned, among other issues, personnel hirings at the country’s Asylum Service. It was however withdrawn after opposition deputies claimed the government was flouting parliamentary procedures.

However, a watered-down version of the amendment was reintroduced on Wednesday.
New Democracy implied the leftist-led coalition was trying to slip legislation through the back door with an amendment that Mitsotakis said “had nothing to do with bill.”

The revised amendment scrapped the articles concerning the personnel hirings but retained others, such as rules governing the creation and operation of canteens at migrant accommodation and reception centers.

Online