Talks Continue For Possible Greek Bailout
ARUN RATH, HOST:
Facing a self-imposed deadline, euro zone leaders meeting today in Brussels moved closer to a deal with Greece. The goal is to avoid financial collapse in the coming weeks. But the provisions under consideration aren't likely to sit well with Greek voters who are already fed up with austerity measures from the last two bailout programs. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi-Nelson is in Brussels. Soraya, what can you tell us about the draft proposal?
SORAYA SARHADDI-NELSON, BYLINE: It's a four-page document that none of us have seen, but that apparently includes some provisions which are really difficult. For one, for the prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras - we're talking - he has to basically take a bunch of things and shove them through his parliament, shove them through the government - a lot of painful austerity-type measures which are going to be very difficult for him to do politically.
At the same time, there is this difficult or ominous provision that talks about Greece perhaps temporarily leaving the euro zone if no agreement can be reached on the bailout. It's something that the EU president, Donald Tusk, wants finished tonight. He wants the document finished tonight, but there are many provisions in there, from what we understand, that are just not agreed upon yet.
RATH: So tell us about the sticking points that make it so difficult to strike a deal.
SARHADDI-NELSON: Well, part of it is the trust - or I should say a large part of it is the trust and reliability issue, as German Chancellor Merkel puts it. They just don't trust anything that the Greek government has to say. They're concerned that Greece has not really fulfilled commitments in the past when there were bailout provisions, shall we say - bailout program provisions.
And we have to remember the things that the Greek government is offering now - and I'm speaking specifically here about tax hikes - value-added tax hikes - pension cuts, privatization, all this. All these things that the government did not agree or was absolutely refusing to do, held a referendum on and now has turned around and said, OK, we'll go ahead and do it. So they just - the demand is for some guarantees that, in fact, these things are going to happen. But they're also very difficult provisions that they're putting forward. I mean, it seems very untenable for the Prime Minister of Greece to be able to push all these things through that they're demanding now.
RATH: So can you talk about how this spiraling crisis is affecting the countries in the rest of the euro zone?
SARHADDI-NELSON: Well, it was interesting because the head of the parliament - the European Parliament, that is -Martin Schulz was actually invited to come speak to the euro zone, which has never happened before. It just shows the depth of this crisis. And he was saying that this isn't just about Greece or euro zone members or Germany or whoever, but this is, in fact, about the euro zone and its credibility and the European Union, for that matter, and its credibility. And whether it's a political power that can solve its own problems and be respected around the world or whether it's going to slowly unravel. So it's really - he was urging them to really come to a decision quickly, which, again, does not seem to be happening.
RATH: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi-Nelson in Brussels. Thanks, Soraya.
SARHADDI-NELSON: You're welcome, Arun.
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