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Greece: Lawmakers Approve New Reforms, 86Bn Euros Bailout Talks Begin Friday

Greek lawmakers have passed a second wave of reforms demanded by international creditors in exchange for a bailout package. Prime Minister Tsipras managed to secure the reforms with a comfortable majority backing.
Greek lawmakers managed to secure enough votes in parliament to pass a second package of reforms – as demanded by international creditors in return for a third multi-billion-euro bailout. Details behind these bailout conditions included changes to the civil code aimed at streamlining legal proceedings as well as new EU regulations to prop up failed banks.
The reforms, included in a nearly 1,000-page bill, were among the prerequisites which Greece’s European creditors had insisted upon in order for negotiations to even begin on a third bailout for Greece worth around 86 billion euros ($93 billion).
Over 75% parliamentary support
Following a whirlwind debate lasting into the early hours of Thursday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras found himself with a comfortable majority behind his leadership to get the controversial measures passed: 229 lawmakers voted for the legislation and 63 voted against, according to preliminary unofficial vote counts tallied by Greek broadcaster Skai. Five cast a vote in absentia, and three were initially unaccounted for.
Tsipras had lost a large chunk of support from his own left-wing Syriza party during a previous vote on bailout conditions last week. The help of votes from the opposition had allowed Tsipras to pass the first tranche of creditor-demanded reforms then.
Many had expected this week’s vote to point once more at ongoing internal rifts within his party. But the Greek leader appeared to have mended at least some of those differences, with only 36 deputies from within his own ranks voting against or abstaining from the bill (as opposed to 39 in last week’s vote).
Failure to achieve sufficient votes in parliament on Thursday would have resulted in a derailing of the bailout, rekindling fears over Greece’s future in the eurozone.

‘A state of emergency’
Addressing parliament, Tsipras said the unpopular reforms were a necessary price to pay to keep Greece alive after stormy talks with its creditors had nearly collapsed earlier this month.
“We have chosen a compromise that forces us to implement a programme in which we do not believe, and we will implement it because the alternatives are tough,” he told lawmakers.
“We are summoned today to legislate under a state of emergency.”
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos had also urged parliament to adopt the measures to enable upcoming talks on the much-needed bailout package.
“It’s extremely important to wrap up these prior actions procedure so that we can start negotiations,” Tsakalotos had said.
He had also told parliament that additional reforms, such as planned pension spending cuts, would be presented to parliament for approval at a later date after “further study.”
Officials from Greece’s three creditor institutions – the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) – were reportedly expected to arrive in Athens on Friday to start holding meetings with the government.

‘Swift progress’
The European Union’s top economy official, Pierre Moscovici, said on Wednesday that after months of deadlock, the parties were now making “swift progress” adding that he hoped a final bailout deal could be signed by August 20 – the deadline for debt-crippled Greece to repay 3.2 billion euros ($3.5 billion) owed to the ECB.
Meanwhile, about 10,000 people demonstrated outside the Greek parliament, protesting the latest measures to overhaul Greece’s judicial and banking sectors.
Minor violence marred the end of the protest when a few teenagers threw petrol bombs at riot police, but no injuries or arrests were reported.

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