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Greece Crisis: PM Tsipras confident, assures debt-deal within 48-hours

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Athens: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appears confident that the reforms-for-cash debt deal Greece has been seeking for five months with creditors will be reached within 48 hours after Sunday’s referendum regardless of the result.

In an interview with local private television channel ANT1 on Thursday evening, the Leftist leader assured that Grexit was not an option for his government and that the hardships Greek people were suffering these days would soon be over.

Tsipras dismissed criticism that his initiative to call last Saturday, the referendum on the debt deal proposal submitted by creditors on June 25, was the catalyst to the banks’ closure and the introduction of capital controls since this Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

He put the blame on the hardliners within the Eurogroup who rejected Athens’s request for a new extension of the bailout that expired on Tuesday midnight, when the country failed to repay a loan installment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and was declared in arrears status.

The referendum should have been held five years ago when Greece resorted to the EU/IMF bailouts, the Greek premier argued, so that citizens could decide on the course the country takes.

“Today people should not worry, because we will have a deal within 48 hours after the referendum,” Tsipras said on Thursday when asked whether banks would reopen next Tuesday, as his government has announced, and whether deposits face the spectre of a “haircut”.

“Banks will reopen with a deal soon, regardless of Sunday’s outcome,” he said, noting that on Monday he was ready to travel to Brussels to negotiate and sign an agreement.

“Grexit is not our option,” the Greek leader underlined. He stressed that his government still sought a “viable solution” for the Greek debt crisis within the European framework.

He insisted that a debt restructuring was the only way to ensure the sustainability of the Greek debt burden and subsequently of any deal with creditors, pointing to the IMF report released earlier on Thursday.

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According to the IMF, the Greek debt load is unsustainable and Greece needs a debt relief in exchange of reforms and a new 50-billion euro ($5.5 billion) financing package until 2018 to stay afloat.

Tsipras avoided to state clearly on Thursday whether if “Yes” prevails against his government’s line he intended to step down, call general elections and leave another premier resume dialogue with lenders.

On the way to Sunday’s referendum, the risk of a rift within the two-party coalition government and political turmoil next week increased.

Five MPs of the junior Greek coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) party publicly rejected the referendum as divisive for Greek society on Thursday.

One of them who added that he intended to vote “Yes” on Sunday was expelled from ANEL’s parliamentary group.

He eventually resigned from his seat in parliament as asked and immediately replaced so the coalition still controls 161 seats in the 300-member assembly.

Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis has implied that he would quit the government should further cutbacks on expenditure in the health sector were implemented, while government sources rejected media reports that the leader of ANEL and Defence Minister Panos Kammenos has also threatened with resignation if defence cuts materialized.

As Tsipras was speaking on TV on Thursday night, the same government sources were also dismissing reports that one of his closest aides, the government’s General Secretary Spyros Sagias, had already submitted a letter of his resignation due to his objection to the “highly risky” referendum idea.

(IANS)

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Governments Have Failed to Respond Adequately to Climate Change at The U.N. Conference: Activists

While there are parts of the package that could and should have been stronger, the implementation guidelines adopted today provide a strong basis to start

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In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo a participant in U.N. climate conference walks by a photo of a satellite in Katowice, Poland. VOA

At the UN Climate Change Conference, which concluded in the presence of delegates from nearly 200 countries, green activists on Sunday said governments have failed to adequately respond to the catastrophic impact of climate change that was highlighted in a recent IPCC report.

Late Saturday night, the UN climate negotiations, known as COP24, drew to a close, with parties adopting a set of guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The climate change conference has failed to deliver a clear commitment to strengthen all countries’ climate pledges by 2020.

At the same time, a relatively effective though incomplete rule book for how to implement the Paris Agreement was finalised.

“It is a weak rule book that we have for implementation of the Paris Agreement. This rule book is completely insufficient to drive ambitious climate action,” New Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.

United Nations, Global warming, climate change
Participants take part in plenary session during COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland. VOA

CSE has been tracking the negotiations at the 24th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) here.

The COP24 conference also failed to increase the ambition of countries to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases as per the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5 degrees Celsius, CSE’s Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan told IANS.

Limited progress was also made with regard to how financial support for poorer countries coping with devastating climate change impact will be provided and accounted for, says another climate negotiator.

The EU has made welcome efforts by building alliances with other countries and finding common ground on sticking points.

With several other members of the High Ambition Coalition, the EU has set a good example by committing to increase its 2030 climate target by 2020, in light of the warnings of the IPCC calling for “rapid and far-reaching” action to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

United Nations, Global warming, climate change
COP24 President Michal Kurtyka speaks during the opening of the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland. VOA

However, NGOs and civil rights bodies say the COP24 has failed to convince all other governments to make the same commitment.

Germany doubled its support for the Green Climate Fund to support developing countries, but other European countries still have to do the same.

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Director Wendel Trio told IANS: “The weak outcome of this COP runs contrary to stark warnings of the IPCC report and growing demand for action from citizens. Governments have again delayed adequate action to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.”

“The EU needs to push ahead and lead by example, by providing more support to poor countries and increasing its climate change pledge before the UN Secretary General Summit in September 2019. It must be a significant increase, even beyond the 55 per cent reduction some member states and the European Parliament are calling for.”

United Nations, Global warming, climate change
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses during the opening of COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

Jennifer Tollmann, climate diplomacy researcher, E3G said: “In the end the EU did finally step up as a bridge-builder. But we now need to see whether they can ace the real test.”

Andrew Wu, research analyst at World Resources Institute, said: “We cannot overlook land use, a sector which accounts for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. There is now a common framework, supported by COP, to help countries measure land use emissions. All countries must adopt this and incorporate natural climate solutions in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.”

Also Read: As Climate Talks Come to a Halt, Africa Suffers From Global Warming

Commenting on the decision, Chair of the Least Developed Countries Group, Gebru Jember Endalew, said: “While there are parts of the package that could and should have been stronger, the implementation guidelines adopted today provide a strong basis to start implementing the agreement.” (IANS)