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Greece talks on EU bailout terms to resume Monday

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is holding crucial talks to try and gain party leaders' support for austerity measures demanded as part of a $171 billion EU bailout package.

Greece emergency talks 2012 03 05Enlarge
Greek state-employed mechanics protest in Athens against salary cuts and lay-offs on February 3, 2012. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos held an emergency meeting Sunday to try to win senior politicians’ support for a proposed $171 billion EU bailout package but the five-hour meeting ended without a deal. 

Talks will resume Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Papademos, a technocrat appointed as leader in November, is trying to avert a disorderly Greek default on $19 billion worth of loan repayments due to private lenders on March 20.

Greece must have the money by mid-March to be able to pay back its debts, and Papademos needs party leaders’ backing for tough IMF and EU reforms demanded as a condition of the rescue package.

On Sunday, Papademos sought the backing of Antonis Samaras, head of New Democracy, Giorgos Karatzaferis, leader of the Popular Orthodox Rally, and George A. Papandreou, the former prime minister.

Upon leaving the talks, Samaras said Greece's creditors "are asking for more recession which the country cannot bear. I am fighting, with all my means, to prevent this," the AP reported.

While, Karatzaferis said that he “will not contribute to the explosion of a revolution due to a wretchedness that will then spread across Europe" reported the New York Times.

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Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos had warned that an agreement needed to be finalized on Sunday for Greece to avoid defaulting, while Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker ratcheted up the pressure on Athens, threatening to cut off funds if painful cuts could not be pushed through, the AFP reported.

“Everything must be concluded by (Sunday) night… so that we can be within the timetable given the bond maturities in March,” Venizelos said, adding that “we are on a knife edge.”

EU officials are tired of Greek delays in backing the terms of the latest rescue package for the debt-stricken country, which include a lower minimum wage, liberalizing workplace regulations, and getting rid of a “13th and 14th month” bonus paid annually to workers.

According to the BBC, Papademos’ coalition partners are wary about associating themselves too closely with the proposed austerity measures due to potential upcoming elections in April.

The conservative New Democracy and the far-right LAOS party in particular have refused to budge on accepting further wage and spending cuts, arguing that these would risk pushing Greece into an even deeper recession and impose worse living conditions on struggling Greeks, Reuters reported. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120205/greece-holds-emergency-meeting-over-eu-bailout-terms