Greek PM Tsipras rallies Syriza backing before bailout vote

Tue Jul 21, 2015 4:17pm EDT
 
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By Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tried to rally his Syriza party on Tuesday before a vote in parliament on the second package of measures demanded by international creditors to open talks on a new bailout deal.

Tsipras has faced a revolt in the left-wing Syriza party over the mix of tax hikes, market reforms and spending cuts demanded by lenders but is expected to get the package through parliament with the support of pro-European opposition parties.

Talking to Syriza officials on the eve of the vote, he said he aimed to seal the bailout accord, which could offer Greece up to 86 billion euros in new loans to bolster its tottering finances and ward off the threat of a forced exit from the euro.

"Up until today I've seen reactions, I've read heroic statements but I haven't heard any alternative proposal," he said, warning that party hardliners could not ignore the clear desire of most Greeks to remain in the single currency.

"Syriza as a party must reflect society, must welcome the worries and expectations of tens of thousands of ordinary people who have pinned their hopes on it," he said, according to an official at the meeting.

Earlier government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said the government expected to wrap up bailout talks with the lenders by Aug. 20 with negotiations expected to begin immediately after Wednesday's vote in parliament.

Officials from the creditor institutions - the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - are due in Athens on Friday for meetings with the government, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said.

Wednesday's vote in parliament follows a first vote last week on the so-called "prior actions" on the mix of economic reforms and budget cuts demanded of Greece as a condition before the start of full bailout talks.   Continued...

 
A frayed Greek national flag flutters among antennas atop a building in central Athens, Greece July 20, 2015.REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis