“(The proposals) are on the table,” she said, “and time is pressing. Therefore, something has to happen quickly.”
Mrs. Merkel added, “Time is pressing, and for the entire eurozone is much at stake.”
Greece is in its fifth year of recession, while unemployment has hit record highs of about 19 percent following a spate of austerity measures in return for the rescue loans that included significant cuts in pensions and salaries coupled with repeated tax hikes and an increase in retirement ages.
“The current policy of austerity … is turning workers into pariahs, jobless people and pensioners into paupers and deprives our youth of any hope,” a statement from the servants union ADEDY said. “This policy has already pushed Greeks beyond their limits and must be stopped at any cost.”
Yiannis Panagopoulos, leader of Greece‘s largest union, the GSEE, said the creditors’ demands were certain to lead to more hardship.
“What is going on is not a negotiation,” he said. “It’s blunt, cynical blackmail targeting an entire people.”
Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this article.
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