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EU keeps up pressure on Greece

Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 02:22

June 23 - European leaders work through the details of bailing out Greece again, while protests continue on the streets of Athens. Kirsty Basset reports.

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As European leaders fight to save Greece, another battle is playing out on the streets of Athens. Inspired by ancient Greek warriors, modern day Spartans have spent four days walking to the capital to protest against the government's plans to sell off state assets. Their efforts didn't prevent negotiators from the EU, ECB and IMF meeting nearby with Greece's new finance minister. They're fine-tuning a contentious austerity package, which needs to be passed next week to secure emergency funds from Europe to stave off bankruptcy. Behind the scenes, euro zone governments are working on a second longer-term package. They're holding talks with banks and insurers, to try and persuade them to keep their Greek debt, to ease the burden on taxpayers. French and German banks and insurers - including BNP Paribas - are among the most exposed outside Greece. That says - ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet - is a major concern. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHAIR OF THE EUROPEAN SYSTEMIC RISK BOARD (ESRB) AND PRESIDENT OF EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK (ECB), JEAN-CLAUDE TRICHET, SAYING: "What we have identified as the most serious threat to financial stability in the EU is the interplay between the vulnerabilities of public finances in certain EU member states and the banking system with potential contagious effects." And it's the threat of contagion which has the rest of the world closely monitoring developments. Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE, SAYING: "If there were a failure to resolve that situation, it would pose threats to the European financial systems, to global financial system, and to European political unity, I would conjecture as well." The issue is expected to dominate at a two-day summit of European leaders in Brussels - EU commissioner Olli Rehn spoke for many as he arrived. (SOUNDBITE)(English) EU COMMISSIONER FOR ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS, OLLI REHN, SAYING: ''The first thing is that Greece must help itself so that the other Europeans can help Greece. That's the bottom line of this.'' But European leaders are under pressure too - their handling of the crisis is also under the spotlight. Kirsty Basset, Reuters.

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EU keeps up pressure on Greece

Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 02:22