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French parliament backs Greece bailout deal

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French parliament backs Greece bailout deal
Pro-eurozone protesters in Greece take to the streets in Athens in a recent demonstration. Photo: AFP
18:50 CEST+02:00
The controversial bailout deal agreed for Greece won the backing of MPs in the French parliament on Wednesday, despite many lawmakers having spoken out against the harsh terms of the agreement.

French MPs overwhelmingly backed the new Greek bailout agreement on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying it was the only route out of the crisis.

The French lower house National Assembly backed the agreement by 412 votes to 69, shortly followed by the upper house Senate, which supported the bill by 260 votes to 23.

In a long, fist-pounding speech, Valls accused opponents of the agreement of trying to push Greece out of the eurozone.

"There can be no 'Grexit', nor 'temporary Grexit' -- an old, absurd and dangerous idea," Valls said.

"I hear talk about humiliation. But humiliation would have been for (Greece) to be driven out of the single currency -- some perhaps wanted that -- while the overwhelming majority of Greeks wanted to keep it."

Several members of the French parliament criticised the deal for forcing further austerity and external control on Greece in exchange for a three-year bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($95 billion).

But Valls said the conditions of the bailout were "normal".

"If the reforms are demanding, that is because -- it has to be said -- they have never been carried out," said Valls.

"This agreement is not a blank cheque precisely because we are demanding a lot of the Greeks, not just to punish it, but to accompany it through a vital economic recovery."

 

 

In the run up to the vote most Socialist MPs agreed the deal was the only option to keep Greece in the euro.

“It was the only means by which help can continue to be given to Greece,” said head of the Socialist party MPs Bruno Le Roux.

“If there was no agreement, it was finished,” he told I Tele.

Another Socialist MP Yann Gulat indicated he would be backing the plan “without happiness in his heart but conscious of the role François Hollande played in supporting Greece and saving Europe".

“It was an inescapable agreement, but that doesn't make it a good agreement,” said Christian Paul, a leftist Socialist and leader of rebel group of left-wing MPS called Les Frondeurs.

However those on the far left in the Parti de Gauche indicated they would vote against the deal, which they see as being “disastrous for the future of Greece.”

MPs in the French Green party EELV and Nicolas Sarkozy's opposition Republicans party, which has been hostile to Syriza and the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, are divided over how to vote.

Some -- but not all -- of the 19 eurozone countries must approve the agreement through their domestic parliaments. The most crucial vote was due to take place in the Greek parliament later on Wednesday.

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