Jul.18 - Greece's parliament passes a series of tough reforms, ahead of a visit from German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble - who's urged the country to stop lobbying for debt forgiveness. Kirsty Basset reports.
All's quiet in Athens. Only a day ago the streets were filled with protesters - but they were forced away by police, ahead of a visit by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who many Greeks accuse of forcing painful cuts - in exchange for bailouts. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) ENGINEER, KATERINA BOUPA, 44, SAYING: "He needs to look deep into his soul. People with those kinds of problems should have more empathy and look at the people, not the numbers." Overnight, the Greek parliament passed a divisive bill, which could see as many as 25,000 civil service workers sacked. The bill also included a luxury tax on homes with swimming pools - and high performance cars. But it's the expected job losses which caused the most grief, sending workers out to protest in their hundreds. The reforms are a condition for a further 7 billion euros in aid, which is necessary to keep the country afloat. As painful as they are, ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski says the reforms are long overdue. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) ING SENIOR ECONOMIST, CARSTEN BRZESKI, SAYING: "The public sector has been highly inflated over the last couple of years. I think we have like 700,000, 750,000 public workers there on the total population of 9 million, 10 million people. So I think the public sector has to be made more efficient. And this is the downside, the heart, the tough part of the reforms." The German Finance Minister is visiting Greece for the first time since Europe's debt crisis erupted in 2009. He praised the country for trying to get its finances back on track - but told Greeks to stop asking for debt forgiveness. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE SAYING: "I would like to ask all of you not to continue these discussions about a new haircut. It is not in your interest. We have agreed on the second programme for Greece and it was difficult to get it, I tell you." Meeting with Greece's prime minister, he's expected to offer 100 million euros for a fund to help the country - but that's unlikely to impress many austerity-weary Greeks.