Greek leaders push for approval on debt deal

Greece's Prime Minister Lucas Papademos urged the country on Saturday night to accept a tough new austerity package, or face bankruptcy, the New York Times reported.

“We are a breath away from ground zero,” Papademos said in a nationally televised address just a day before parliament votes on whether to approve a massive bailout plan.

The crucial vote is scheduled for Sunday night.

Papademos said "a disorderly default would set the country on a disastrous adventure," Reuters reported. "Living standards would collapse and it would lead sooner or later to an exit from the euro."

Papademos said parliament had a historic responsibility to back the bill.

The European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — known as the "troika"— have demanded tough cuts to pensions and other austerity measures in a $170 billion bailout plan. Greece needs that money to avoid a March default.

Failing to adopt the bill, Papademos said, "would disrupt imports of fuel, medicine and machinery."

More from GlobalPost: Greece starts 48-hour general strike

In Athens, union leaders led a second day of protests against the plan which they say unfairly burdens Greece's citizens. According to police about 3,500 protesters gathered outside parliament, the New York Times reported.

More protests are expected on Sunday.

More from GlobalPost: Greece emergency bailout talks delayed as France and Germany increase pressure

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.