All eyes on ECB, Eurogroup after Greek lawmakers back bailout

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FRANKFURT, Jul 16: After the Greek bailout cleared parliament in Athens, all eyes turned Thursday to eurozone finance ministers and the ECB to keep the debt-wracked country s economy afloat until the rescue plan is backed by other national legislatures in Europe.
The so-called Eurogroup of finance ministers held a conference call to discuss next steps following the Greek vote, while the ECB s decision-making governing council was holding its regular policy meeting.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras overcame a major mutiny in his radical left Syriza party and won parliamentary approval for a series of unpopular reforms demanded by international creditors.
As anti-austerity protesters threw firebombs at police on the streets of Athens, Tsipras was forced to rely on pro-European opposition parties to win approval for the measures that include sweeping changes to taxes, pensions and labour rules.
“I had specific choices before me: one was to accept a deal I disagree with on many points, another was a disorderly default,” he said in an impassioned speech to parliament.
Many of Syriza s hardline leftists voted against the measures, including former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, after a tempestuous debate.
And even his successor Euclid Tsakalotos said his decision to back the bailout terms “will burden me my whole life”.
“I don t know if we did the right thing. I do know we did something we felt we had no choice over,” he said.
Greek parliamentary backing was a pre-condition for Athens to secure a third EU bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($94 billion), and means tough talks to finalise the long-awaited deal can soon begin in earnest.
Brussels appeared to be satisfied by the results of the overnight vote.
“The authorities have legally implemented the first set of four measures agreed at the euro summit in a timely and overall satisfactory manner,” EU spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt told reporters in Brussels.
European governments are divided over options to help Greece meet its short-term cash needs while it waits for the eurozone bailout deal to be finalised, which will likely take at least four weeks.

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