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Euro zone dampens Greek Christmas spirit

Thursday, December 15, 2016 - 01:43

Greece responds to a euro zone decision to put debt relief on hold in a row over Christmas bonuses for pensioners - by scheduling its own parliamentary vote on whether to go ahead with the payment. Ivor Bennett reports.

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It's the equivalent of a trip to Santa's grotto. Only here, the gifts aren't guaranteed. In fact, Greece has had one taken away. Alexis Tsipras's meeting with European Parliament President Martin Schulz was an attempt to get the debt relief deal back on the table. In some corners, he has support. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING: "I want Greece to be treated in a dignified way and to remain in the euro zone. I want us to find a solution to the Greek debt issue because that's a (key) condition to the stability of Greece and Europe." Some would say the Greek Prime Minister brought it on himself. A decision to give low-income pensioners 600 million euros was a red flag to creditors, who put the debt relief deal on hold. But Tsipras argues he can do what he wants with the money after exceeding primary surplus targets. On all fronts, he's promising a tough stance. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "I believe that we can have a breakthrough without blackmails and with respect in the sovereignty of this country." But dissent against austerity is still fierce in Greece. And it's not just Brussels they blame, but the government too. Pensioners even snubbing the bonus - believing it to be a ruse ahead of yet more cuts. SOUNDBITE (English) JAMES BEVAN, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CCLA, SAYING: "The harsh problem will be that if the Greek people turn round and say 'no, enough's enough, we're simply not prepared to proceed further with this austerity', then all of the good work to date will be lost." It's a prospect Europe's leaders will be all too aware of. But no sign yet of any Christmas spirit.

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Euro zone dampens Greek Christmas spirit

Thursday, December 15, 2016 - 01:43