Athens parliament agrees to austerity package
The parliament in Athens approved on Wednesday night the austerity measures agreed to in Brussels - albeit without a government majority. In the meantime the IMF has demanded debt relief for Greece. Billions in new debts won't help get the country out of its crisis, some commentators write. Others praise the parliament's decision and urge Athens to use the time gained to implement reforms.
Government reshuffle for the country's sake
Thirty-two Syriza MPs in the Greek parliament voted against the reforms that are the condition for a third bailout on Wednesday night. The liberal website To Vima calls on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to take action: "The loss of a government majority in parliament must be met with immediate initiatives from the prime minister to ensure that the process aimed at an agreement with our European partners runs smoothly. The opposition, which voted for the agreement, has given him leeway for such initiatives with its support. The necessary government reshuffle would be a first step towards restoring normality in parliament and government. The country needs a government that speaks with one voice and can address the major problems. … The critical state of the economy makes it necessary to preserve the consensus achieved in parliament."
Three years to implement reforms
Although it was right to vote for a new austerity programme the threat of a Grexit persists, the liberal daily Politis warns: "Remaining in the Eurozone means the continuation of a strict austerity memorandum, one that is in fact much harsher than the previous ones. It also means more poverty and unemployment - but at the same time continued integration in a zone of geopolitical and geostrategic stability. ... Tsipras very rightly decided for the euro, despite the difficulties. ... But we mustn't kid ourselves. With this third austerity memorandum Greece's exit from the Eurozone has by no means been ruled out. Greece will receive new loans and three years to implement the necessary reforms. If it can't, a Grexit will be unavoidable."
IMF exposes Europe's wishful thinking
The International Monetary Fund's wake-up call sheds welcome light on the EU's unrealistic and opportunistic policy in the Greek crisis, the centre-right daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes in praise: "For political and economic reasons the governments of the creditor countries have every interest in playing for time at least until the end of their own term in office. That will allow them to pass on the unavoidable dishonour of a debt haircut to the next government. And so - as happened on Monday - they sign an agreement according to which Greece will have astonishingly high primary surpluses in the next decades, and evolve miraculously from tail light to frontrunner in terms of growth and employment in the Eurozone. It is both necessary and important for the IMF to challenge such wishful thinking with inconvenient facts."
EU denies the need for a debt haircut
In its latest assessment the international Monetary Fund sees Greece's debts as unsustainable and calls for debt relief. This is indeed the only solution, the liberal daily La Stampa agrees: "Instead of reducing the aid to the minimum but stipulating clear and fulfillable terms and initiating debt relief, Brussels has decided to put together a new bailout package - with terms that are virtually impossible to adhere to. Because debt relief would require the admission that the debt that has accumulated since 2000 is the result of the carelessness of the banks and other private creditors which were then bailed out by governments and international governments - and therefore by the taxpayer - who took over their loans. … Do we still have the time and political ability to correct Monday's agreement in any way? Or do we want to continue playing with the economic, political and strategic risks of Greece leaving the euro?"