Greek Bailout Drama Drags On

Protests gather steam as public unions continue strike

Protesters in front of the Greek Parliament last year. (Photo: AP) Protesters in front of the Greek Parliament last year. (Photo: AP)

Greece missed yet another deadline on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos scheduled to meet with party leaders on Wednesday in yet another effort to put the seal on an agreement necessary to secure another bailout package. Outside the parliament building, meanwhile, chanting demonstrators protested additional austerity measures as public unions struck.

Reuters reported that missing paperwork was blamed as the cause of the postponed meeting on Tuesday, even as European Union (EU) officials grew more impatient. Some even began to discuss the possibility of Greece leaving the euro zone. While a member country cannot be expelled by other member countries, if Greece decides on its own to go it alone, some members may not try to stop it.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said as much in the report, expressing the frustration felt by many other euro zone countries, and was quoted saying, "We are currently so strong in the rest of the euro zone, in the countries who have the euro, that we can handle an exit of Greece—a Greece which runs into serious trouble. They really have to implement all the measures they have promised to take. If that doesn't happen we can't help them."

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed the idea of Greece departing the currency bloc, saying that any action to impel Greece to leave would have "unforeseeable consequences." She was quoted saying to a Greek student at a Berlin museum, "I will have no part in forcing Greece out of the euro."

Still, arriving at the required agreement seems more difficult with each day that passes. Bloomberg reported that there is little support among the party leaders whose approval Papademos must win.

The troika—the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are insisting on guarantees from party leaders in Greece's coalition government that even after the next election they will hew to promised reforms. Those leaders are standing firm, with Antonis Samaras, head of New Democracy, Greece's second-largest party, saying he will oppose new austerity measures that will send Greece deeper into recession. George Karatzaferis, who heads one of the three parties that supports Papademos, Laos, said he wanted assurances that the new austerity measures would bring Greece out of crisis.

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