Greece needs a sixth tranche of European aid - 8 billion euros - by December 15, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday.
Greece’s economy faces collapse if Athens does not receive the scheduled tranche of the European Union and International Monetary Fund aid package totaling 110 billion euros by mid-December, analysts have warned.
Euro zone leaders have threatened to delay the tranche after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced his plans to hold a referendum to seek the nation’s approval of the new 130-billion-euro aid plan for Greece, agreed upon by European leaders on October 26. The new resque deal requires additional austerity measures in the form of pension cuts, layoffs and new taxes, which Greeks are highly unlikely to support.
During an emergency Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Papandreou said the referendum, which “was never a purpose in itself,” could be scrapped if an agreement was reached with the opposition to accept the new rescue plan for Athens.
“We had a dilemma: either real consensus or referendum,” Papandreou told his ministers, according to an e-mailed transcript of his statements. “If the opposition comes to the table to agree on the loan, there’s no need for a referendum.”
Antonis Samaras, leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, called earlier on Thursday for the creation of a coalition government to accept the new aid package. Papandreou hailed the opposition’s backing of the rescue plan and agreed to discuss the creation of a coalition government with opposition leaders.
However, he has refused to resign from his post and called on his party lawmakers to support his government in Friday’s confidence vote, which he may lose with his razor-thin, two-vote majority.
Venizelos said later on Thursday that since the "window of consensus” between Papandreou’s government and the opposition had “opened,” the referendum on the new bailout package was likely to be scrapped.