June 18, 2013
Greece pushes for austerity deal despite of protests
Greece held a new round of talks with foreign lenders to bridge differences over two billion euros of disputed austerity cuts today, with time running short to clinch a deal before a key meeting of euro zone ministers next week.
For the second day in a row, inspectors from the so-called troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF lenders had to face rows of angry Greeks heckling them as they entered a ministry building to start discussions.
At the labor ministry, dozens of disabled Greeks and their careers blocked the main entrance and chanted "We won't let it pass!" in protest at the cuts. One held a banner saying: "They handed 200 billion to bankers but cut down on medicine, treatment and benefits for the disabled."
The protests came a day after Greece unveiled an austerity budget that predicted a sixth year of recession in 2013 but failed to convince the troika, which has been skeptical of Athens' plans to cut health and defense spending.
Athens has been haggling for weeks over 12 billion euros of cutbacks that its European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders have refused to sign off on over fears that some of the proposed savings are unlikely to materialize.