NEWS

Greek Parliament passes implementation law [update]

Greece’s Parliament has passed a bill to implement more belt-tightening measures, set by foreign creditors as a condition for unlocking crucial bailout funds to avert a Greek default.

The measures, known as the midterm fiscal plan, were approved by majority vote on Thursday securing 155 votes from Greece?s 300-seat assembly.

The austerity measures, which were approved in a tense Parliament vote on Wednesday, were opposed by opposition parties and were the cause of a general strike, marred by extensive rioting, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In a statement published on Thursday, the European Union welcomed the outcome of the additional vote.

“This was the second, decisive step Greece needed to take in order to return to a sustainable path,» European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a joint statement on Thursday.

“In very difficult circumstances, it was another act of national responsibility. The conditions are now in place for a decision on the disbursement of the next tranche of financial assistance for Greece and for rapid progress on a second assistance package,» the European officials said.

Foreign lenders – the European Union and International Monetary Fund had demanded Parliament pass the two bills before they approve a 12 billion euro ($17.3 billion) installment from the country’s 110 billion euro ($159 billion) package of rescue loans.

EU leaders reiterated their call for consensus among Greece’s political parties. Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy party has repeatedly attacked the austerity program, inviting criticism also from its conservative peers in the bloc.

“In view of the hard work that still lies ahead, we repeat our call for all political parties to work together to take to their country forward,» they said.