Greek's political leaders fail on austerity measures
Seven-and-a-half hour meeting broke up with the parties agreed on 'all points of the plan except one'
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has gone to Brussels to meet
eurozone counterparts, in spite of the nation's political leaders
failing to agree on a package of austerity measures on which payment of
the country's latest bailout loan depends.
'At 2 a.m., all I can say, is a line from the Beatles: 'It is a hard day's night,'' George Karatzaferis, the leader of the far-right LAOS party told reporters as he left for home.
Venizelos urged Greece's coalition leaders to reach a last minute deal on which he said Greece's "survival over the coming years" depended.
"It will determine whether the country remains in the eurozone or whether its place in Europe will be endangered," Venizelos said. "There is no room for any other expediency: We must look Greeks in the eye, look at the national interest and the interest of our children."
Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos held talks with coalition party leaders into the early hours of Thursday. The seven-and-a-half hour meeting broke up with the parties agreed on "all points of the plan except one," according to the prime minister's office.
A government source told reporters that the sticking point had been proposed pension cuts. Conservative and far-right leaders in the coalition reportedly considered the proposed 15 percent cut to subsidiary pensions unacceptable.
"At 2 a.m., all I can say, is a line from the Beatles: 'It is a hard day's night,'" George Karatzaferis, the leader of the far-right LAOS party told reporters as he left for home.
Centrist newspapers took the country's leadership to task, calling the crisis a "political comeuppance." Columnists accused the politicians of grandstanding and attempting to present themselves as defenders of welfare when cuts were necessary.
Measures to further reduce Greece's crippling debt have been called for by the country's so-called "troika" of bailout creditors; the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Unelected Prime Minister Papademos, who was appointed in November to steer Greece through its financial crisis, is seeking to push through financial reforms to secure $170 billion in funds from the troika to avoid a March default on its bond repayments.
The three have also demanded further measures to improve Greece's competitiveness and economic stability, including new private-sector wage and pension cuts, public-sector retrenchments and cuts in health, welfare and defense spending.
The Greek government has already accepted that it must cut 150,000 public-sector jobs by 2015 to get the new bailout, and reduce 2012 spending by a further 3.3 billion euros as well as wage cuts in the private sector by 22 percent and recapitalize banks.
The proposals are highly unpopular with many Greeks, with unions this week calling for a two-day strike in protest over proposed cuts. The latest strike action follows a 24-hour walkout by many workers on Tuesday.
"They simply don't care that they are causing such damage to the country and such damage to society," Stathis Anestis, a senior official at the GSEE union said.
The nation's populace has grown increasingly restive; Greeks have already been hit with a spate of salary cuts and increased taxation over the past two years, amid record-high unemployment and a five-year recession.
Greece has been kept solvent and functional since May 2010 by international rescue loans. There are widespread fears that a Greek default on its debts could trigger an economic crisis throughout the eurozone that would shake the world financial system.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Greece, austerity measures, eurozone, finances, debt
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