Greece’s Parliament is expected to approve the controversial austerity measures struck Monday with the country’s creditors, but opposition to the agreement is tearing apart the ruling left-wing Syriza party.
Joanna Kakissis, who is reporting for NPR from Athens, tells our Newscast unit that Syriza was elected six months ago to end austerity. She says:
“[M]ore than half of the leftist party’s central committee signed a statement slamming the deal signed by their leader, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis compared the deal to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which crushed Weimar Germany and helped fuel World War II.”
“These negotiations failed because the creditors refused the only issue that would put Greece on a viable path again,” Varoufakis said, “the issue of debt relief.”
Tsipras maintains that though the deal signed Monday was flawed, the alternative, an exit from the eurozone, was worse.
Parliament is expected to vote Wednesday night on the agreement.
Debt relief for Greece was the focus of a study released Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s creditors, which called the country’s debt burden “highly unsustainable.” The fund said it would not support the new bailout unless the agreement reduced the country’s debt burden.
That position puts the Washington-based IMF in conflict with Greece’s other creditors — the eurozone and the European Central Bank. The New York Times notes:
“The deal announced Monday morning stated that the creditors would not forgive any Greek debt and offered only a general assurance of further discussions about reducing annual debt payments by stretching out payment periods or reducing interest rates.
“The fund’s decision to go public with its stance suggested that the draft agreement would be only the starting point for further negotiations about the sustainability of Greece’s debt and the willingness of its lenders to recognize they might not get all their money back.”
Greece owes its creditors about $330 billion, according to the Times, an amount that has been estimated to be 177 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.