‘Don’t take me for a fool’

Tension ran high as Eurozone leaders strived to reach bailout deal

THERE was apparently raised voices, reprimands and outright hostility but at the 11th hour of a very long day Eurozone leaders have agreed on a plan for a third bailout for Greece.

Another 53.5 billion euro (AUD$80 billion) will be given to Greece in a three year deal to pile on top of its already more than 300 billion euro debt.

But Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras capitulated on his defiance and agreed to push through pension, market and privatisation reforms starting from this week.

It was a tougher deal than when it was first offered by the 18 Eurozone leaders more than a month ago and was similar to one first mooted in 2012 but with the beleaguered country on the verge of collapse there was little he could do.

He now has just three days to show his country has begun to enact the cuts to unlock the rescue package.

“We found ourselves before difficult decisions, tough dilemmas. We took the responsibility of the decision in order to avert the implementation of the more extreme aims (of) the more extreme conservative circles in the European Union,” he said.

While the European markets rejoiced with the news there was sombre reaction for his agreement back home in Greece where more than 60 per cent of the population only a fortnight ago voted in a referendum to not accept further austerity cuts and demands from EU leaders.

It is not clear how Tsipras will be able to get it through his own parliament for approval but he had earlier threatened to dump rebel MPs from his own party who did not support his leadership on the issue.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the leader of the EU’s biggest lender to Greece, will recommend to her parliament to now accept the deal “with full conviction”.

She too had been under immense pressure from the MPs from her own party to maintain a hard line on Greece and not throw more good money after bad particularly after the overwhelming ‘No’ referendum vote.

The German delegation had even floated the idea of allowing Greece to temporarily drop out of the Eurozone while it fixed its own finances, an idea roundly rejected by other Euro leaders notably France’s Francoise Hollande who had been engaged in a war of words with Merkel.

Germany’s Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, also yelled at the European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi “don’t take me for a fool” as the Italian banker talked about possible debt relief options.

Under the agreement thrashed over during talks that went for most of the night and into the early morning, there is to be a big increase in the Value Added Tax, further cuts to what had been before the crisis generous pensions tax more public sell offs.