Greek debt crisis: have Greek leaders or haven’t Greek leaders agreed a deal?

In Greek mythology Hercules was set 12 impossible labors by the Goddess Hera, journalists have been set one impossible task by the Greek government: trying to summarize what is happening in the Greek debt crisis.

Late last night, following a marathon meeting (sorry, those Greek allusions can't be avoided) Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the leaders of the three political parties in the country's coalition government agreed to a package of further austerity measures meant to insure Greece gets another bail-out from the EU. The bail-out is worth 130 billion euros ($ 171.4 billion).

The country's Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos set off for Brussels to meet with his euro zone counterparts to present the plan and presumably get their approval.

He didn't get far on his journey before the plan came under attack both inside Greece and outside.

One of the political leaders in the room when the deal was agreed, Georgios Karatzaferis of LAOS, said he would not vote for it.

The Greek newspaper eKathimerini quotes the LAOS leader saying, "The creditors are asking for 40 years of submission. Greece will not give itself up." Karatzaferis added, "Greece can survive outside the EU but cannot survive under a German boot."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble threw cold water on the plan, saying the cuts would leave Greece short of its target of getting its debt down to 120 percent by the year 2020, the benchmark for receiving the bail-out.

Then a 48-hour general strike was called by Greek trade unions. Scenes of mayhem followed.

The other thing that makes this a slippery story to get hold of and try to explain is details about what was agreed last night are in short supply. I have seen a report saying that a 22 percent reduction in the minimum wage was agreed but that's about it.

Reuters reports that Greece's euro zone partners are demanding 325 million euros more in savings. It is believed that that money could be found by further cuts in pensions – but that is a red line no Greek politician will cross. They are also demanding a guarantee that whoever wins elections scheduled for May carries out the austerity cuts in full.

You can understand why Jeremy Warner of the Daily Telegraph writes in his blog of today:

"There is only one way of interpreting the set of fresh demands tabled by eurozone finance ministers last night in return for agreeing a new €130bn bailout for Greece – that they are now quite deliberately trying to push Greece out of the euro. All pretense at European solidarity has been abandoned, to be replaced by the vengeance of Shylock."

Warner is a complete euro skeptic and I'm not – and I question the Shakespeare allusion, he should have found something out of Homer, perhaps, "Greed and folly double the suffering in the lot of man" – but I agree with him. I think the rest of the euro zone is preparing to cut Greece loose.

Sunday the Greek Parliament will vote on the package – maybe we'll find out the Greeks want out of the euro zone as well.

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