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Greek parliament approves anti-austerity plan

Greece’s parliament has approved the new government’s 10-point anti-austerity plan, aimed at persuading its international creditors to rethink their bailout terms.

The government’s first domestic political victory came on Tuesday night, a day before the country’s new prime minister – Alexis Tsipras – kicks off a week of high-stake diplomatic negotiations in Brussels, where he is expected to tackle the bailout with European Union officials.

Greece “cannot return to an age of bailouts and suppression”, Tsipras said in a speech to parliament, before winning the vote with the backing of 162 legislators in the 300-seat chamber.

Tsipras is pushing for creditors to soften the tough conditions of the 240bn euro ($270bn) bailout that Greece accepted during the financial crisis.

However, the EU warned Greece on Tuesday to scale back its plans to revise the agreement if it wanted to secure a fund lifeline at the talks.

Pierre Moscovici, the European economic affairs commissioner, said the existing deal was “the anchor” on which discussions should be held, while Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, ruled out renegotiations.

“It’s over” if Greece does not want the final tranche of its multibillion euro aid programme on the current terms, said Schaeuble according to Bloomberg media network.

Moscovici and Schaeuble’s comments came after Greece’s outspoken Energy and Environment Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said: “If someone dares to issue an ultimatum, they should know they have picked the wrong country, the wrong people, and the wrong government.”

Public support

Almost 8 in 10 Greeks approve of the government’s policies, a poll commissioned by Mega TV showed on Tuesday, and over 73 percent expect a compromise to be forged between Athens and its EU peers.

According to a finance ministry source, the Greek government is ready to cooperate on 70 percent of its bailout obligations, but wants to overhaul the remaining 30 percent, which it would replace with the 10-step plan.

The plan offers a series of measures including lower budget surplus targets and cutting debt through a swap plan to replace its current EU-IMF bailout deal obligations.

Meanwhile, Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, said that if Greece failed to get a new debt agreement with the eurozone, it could always look elsewhere for help.

“It could be the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries,” Kammenos said in a Greek television show.

Source: Al Jazeera

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