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Anti-Austerity Greek Government Yields Ground At EU Summit


There's been talk for years now of Greece defaulting on its massive debt and giving up the euro. This week, though, that talk has gotten louder. The next debt payment to the International Monetary Fund is due in exactly one week, and Greece doesn't have the cash. Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens that Greece has made new concessions to its creditors that might just allow it to keep Europe's common currency.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: On Monday night, as European leaders held an emergency summit on Greece's troubled economy, thousands of Greeks rallied outside Parliament, hoping to keep Greece in the eurozone. They chanted, we want Europe, not the drachma...


KAKISSIS: ...Referring to the country's old currency. Marilena Kapsali, whose family lost their import business in the recession, says she wants Europe even with the pain of eurozone-imposed austerity measures.

MARILENA KAPSALI: (Speaking Greek).

KAKISSIS: "Because it would be so much worse for us without the euro," she says. "Where would we go, to Russia? The question is, if we left, where exactly would we go?"

European Council President Donald Tusk, who's from Poland, told reporters in Brussels that he called the emergency summit to speed up a credit deal to help Greece and Europe.


DONALD TUSK: Time is running out, not only for Greece but for all of us. We have only one week before the current Greek program expires. And this means that the let's-wait-and-see strategy must end.

KAKISSIS: The summit forced Greece to accept most of Europe's demands. The anti-austerity Greek government gave ground on hotly contested issues like phasing out early retirement and says it's prepared to do much more if its creditors can offer some kind of debt relief. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters that he had given creditors what they want.



KAKISSIS: "And now," he said, "I'll use a phrase the European leadership has used so often with us - the ball is in their court." Without aid from Europe, Greece runs out of cash at the end of the month. For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis in Athens. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.