EU Can't Help Greece Unless Greece Helps Itself - Rehn
"There is no plan B...Europe can't help Greece unless Greece helps itself," said a spokesman for economic commissioner Olli Rehn.
Meanwhile, anti-austerity protests in Athens turned violent on June 28th after protestors clashed with riot police, destroying a kiosk and setting a television broadcast van on fire. Tens of protestors were treated with first aid, and three policemen were injured, according to news reports from Greece.
The general strike will continue June 29th with public transport at a standstill, so travellers to Greece are advised to contact their airline for more details.
New austerity measures set for vote June 29th, 30th
The country's parliament must pass a five-year austerity plan and key laws on fiscal strategy and privatisation with the aim of collecting 50 billion euros by 2015. Unless the measures and laws are passed, it cannot receive 12 billion euros in the latest tranche of a bailout loan from the IMF and EU in mid-July, said Eurogroup finance ministers earlier this month.
Although finance ministers said they are conscious of the "serious challenges" faced by Greek citizens, they will not release the 12 billion euros until structural reforms are passed.
The 12 billion euros will come from official and private investors, and finance ministers would "welcome the pursuit of voluntary private sector involvement in the form of informal and voluntary roll-overs of existing Greek debt at maturity."
Voluntary rolling over Greece's debts would help the country to avoid default, said ministers.
Cyprus exposed to Greek sovereign debt
Should Greece default on its sovereign debt, the Cyprus government may be forced to bail out its banks, which own roughly 14 billion euros of Greek bonds and five billion euros worth of Greek bank bonds. Cypriots are watching the situation develop in Greece with a mixture of compassion and trepidation; compassion because their hearts are touched by the agony the Greek people are going through, and trepidation in case the economic crisis spreads to Cyprus.
Almost one-fifth of Greeks unemployed
Greece is on the point of being torn apart by tremendous economic pressures.
Popular protests are continuing into their fifth week amid strikes by public energy company employees which are causing blackouts in some areas of the country. Just over 811,000 people - or close to one-fifth of the working population - were unemployed in March.
Opposition leader Antonis Samaras is extremely critical of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's government, saying that the latest agreement with the European Commission is giving too much away and exposing the economy to more problems. But with Papandreou's PASOK party still holding onto a narrow lead in parliament, most analysts expect the austerity measures to be passed.