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article imageGreece approves austerity measures to stay in euro economy

By Nathan Salant     Jul 21, 2015 in World
Athens - Greece's parliament argued long into the night Thursday but finally approved a long list of new austerity measures to keep the government afloat with emergency loans from other European Union nations.
A new 7 billion euro package means Greece has enough money to allow its banks to reopen after more than two weeks and to keep payments current with the European Central Bank.
But the impacts of Greece's EU survival are far from clear, just as the effect of the country's forced exit from the euro currency — a scenario that is still being considered — also was shrouded in doubt.
Greece's anti-austerity prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, campaigned for the latest austerity measures even though they were more severe than the package voters rejected two weeks ago . . . at his urging.
But Tsipras expressed doubts about the package and told lawmakers that he only agreed to the austerity measures because he thought Greece's forced exit from the EU would be disastrous, according to the Reuters news service.
"I acknowledge the fiscal measures are harsh, that they won't benefit the Greek economy, but I'm forced to accept them," he said before Thursday's vote.
Dozens of members of Tsipras' own Syriza party, already clinging to a tenuous majority in parliament, deserted for the vote, forcing the prime minister to align with the more-centrist New Democracy, Pasok and Potami parties.
And the vote came as anti-government radicals — many who seemed like natural allies of Tsipras' alternative Syriza party — rioted in the streets of Athens.
Measures approved by parliament included an increase in the value added tax that is not expected to apply to hotels until the tourist season ends in October.
"Tsipras continues wounded, until further notice," said the front page of left-leaning Efimerida Ton Syntakton newspaper.
"Governments fall when they lose the support of the people, he says," the paper said.
But Greece's financial crisis is expected to begin to ease almost immediately.
Banks will begin to reopen on Monday, although withdrawal limits will remain in effect.
All 28 EU countries are expected to contribute to the latest bailout effort, including non-euro members Britain and the Czech Republic.
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