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As aid approved, Athens faces unrest

Friday, Dec 14, 2012 - 02:23

Dec.14 - The euro zone agrees to provide nearly 50 billion euros in long-delayed aid to Athens, but the news comes as thousands of civil servants take to the streets protesting against job cuts. Ciara Sutton reports.

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"You have sunk the country and our future without our permission" That's the message coming from civil servants marching through Athens. Up to 27,000 workers could lose their jobs over the next year in the latest package of austerity reforms passed by the government. Greece is looking to cut costs and boost tax revenues as part of the conditions of receiving its next tranche of bailout money. Euro zone finance ministers and the IMF are to hand over nearly 50 billion euros in long-delayed aid by the end of March, with some arriving by next week. Leaders say Athens is back on track with its international bailout programme, and a buyback of its own debt has secured the country's survival in the bloc. European Council President Herman Van Rompuoy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY SAYING: "It marks an important step. The decision will help ensure Greek debt sustainability over the medium term and allows for supporting Greece in its adjustments efforts. These are strong signs of Europeans' solidarity to the people of Greece and a demonstration that a country and its European partners continue to live up to their commitments." But after five years of crippling recession, many Greeks are doubtful that the loan will improve their situation. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) WORKER ASPASIA ANTONIOU, SAYING: "What brings us out on the street is despair over the jobs of our colleagues which we don't know will exist tomorrow." (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) WORKER NIKOS TRAKKAS, SAYING: "We must resist against the next layoffs, because it is certain in 2013 they will lay off 25,000 workers. So it will be our turn." It's been a good week for European leaders meeting in Brussels. They've agreed to press on with further steps to sustain momentum in tackling the debt crisis after clinching a deal on eurozone-wide banking supervision. Still, Alpesh Patel from Praefinium Partners warns the crisis is far from over. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALPESH PATEL, FOUNDING PRINCIPLE AT PRAEFINIUM PARTNERS, SAYING: "The long term issues are very different to the short term day in day out week in week out issues which keep on coming at great regularity. Not least the issues regarding Greece, bank bailouts out of Spain and so on." Greece has also unveiled a bill to boost tax revenues under the terms of its international bailout, part of a two-pronged attack to get its citizens and firms to pay their way. It's a move that's pleased international lenders, but will prove divisive closer to home.

As aid approved, Athens faces unrest

Friday, Dec 14, 2012 - 02:23

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