Greek PM Tsipras seeks party backing after abrupt concessions

Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:23pm EDT
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By Angeliki Koutantou and Michele Kambas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appealed to his party's lawmakers on Friday to back a tough reform package after abruptly offering last-minute concessions to try to save the country from financial meltdown.

With creditor institutions due to deliver an initial verdict on Athens' loan request and reform proposals within hours, euro zone partners appeared to be preparing for a deal at the weekend to keep Greece in the euro zone.

After walking into a party meeting to applause, Tsipras tried to rally his Syriza lawmakers behind the new proposals ahead of a snap vote in parliament expected late on Friday. He urged them to help Greece stay with the euro, but he faced some resistance from leftists stunned by his acceptance of previously spurned austerity measures.

"We are confronted with crucial decisions," Tspiras told his party caucus, according to a Greek official.

"We got a mandate to bring a better deal than the ultimatum that the Eurogroup gave us, but certainly not a mandate to take Greece out of the euro zone," he said. "We are all in this together."

The latest reform package was strikingly similar to the terms Greeks rejected in a referendum just last Sunday, angering members of the Syriza's hardline Left Platform wing. Five of them signed a letter saying it would be better to return to the drachma, Greece's pre-euro currency, than to swallow more austerity with no debt write-off.

"The proposals are not compatible with the Syriza program," Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who belongs to the far-left faction, told Reuters.

He declined to say how he would vote in the plenary ballot expected late on Friday night. "We will take it step by step."   Continued...

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras selivers his speech as he attends a parliamentary session in Athens, Greece, July 10, 2015.   REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis