June 30 - The Greek parliament has approved detailed austerity and privatization bills in a crucial vote to secure emergency funds and avert imminent bankruptcy. Sonia Legg reports.
The second vote on Greece's austerity package was a little less tense than the first. There were no violent protests outside and George Papandreou's Socialist government soon secured the 151 votes needed to pass the legislation. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the bill didn't make lawmakers happy - but it was essential. FINANCE MINISTER EVANGELOS VENIZELOS ADDRESSING PARLIAMENT, SAYING: "Of course, we want measures promoting development, measures to end the recession, measures for social cohesion. But when you have to negotiate very hard from a weak position because you are the borrower, the one who is asking for help and support under stringent deadlines imposed by the fund, then you have to move within the narrow boundaries of balances of power which, unfortunately, are not only political, but also financial." But the leader of the main opposition party doesn't share that view. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER ANDONIS SAMARAS OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY PARTY, ADDRESSING PARLIAMENT, SAYING: "This is not the right therapy to cure the problem. And I am afraid, my dear colleagues, in a few months' time, both you, the troika and the government will realise that this medicine will only make the patient sicker." Dozens of people were arrested and several injured during riots which continued late into Wednesday night. They're angry about the scale of cuts which involve saving 28 billion euros over five years. But Greece should now get the next instalment of the EU/IMF loan it needs to save it from immediate bankruptcy. And that will buy the rest of Europe - particularly its banks - a little more time to prepare for a possible Greek default. Sonia Legg, Reuters.