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Awaiting debt deal, Greeks resist expected reforms

As Greece awaits an emergency economic deal to stave off bankruptcy -- which could come later this week -- some are urging the government not to give in to demands of the country's international creditors. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    An emergency meeting on the Greek debt crisis fell short of agreement today. But the chair of the Eurozone finance ministers' meetings in Brussels said a deal could come later this week, and that the group is using new proposals by Greek President Alexis Tsipras, which include spending cuts and reforms, as a basis for further talks.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens, where residents worry as a June 30 deadline draws closer.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    Waving Greek flags, thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Parliament to insist that the country must remain within the Eurozone. They're afraid that bankruptcy and departure from the common currency will spell disaster for Greece.

    And it appears tonight that they will have a reprieve, as the latest proposals put forward by the radical prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, go some way towards meeting the creditors' demands. It will mean higher taxes for the rich, some extra sales taxes, but he's reportedly refusing to cut pensions.

    Twenty-four hours earlier, the message coming from this place was totally different. As the heat was being turned up on Greece, supporters of the left-wing Syriza government took over the grounds of Parliament to urge Tsipras not to surrender to the creditors.

  • ANNA FLOROU, Greece:

    I'm worried about people getting hungry and hungrier. I live in the center of Athens, and I can see people shopping from the garbage.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    The hourly changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was chaotic, as demonstrators chanted that the country wasn't for sale.

    Greece has a glorious history of resistance, but also of painful defeat. With the country on the brink of bankruptcy, former bank worker Eteokles Politopoulos urged the government not to alter course. Politopoulos has been unemployed for 18 months after resigning because he couldn't bear working for a bank.

  • ETEOKLES POLITOPOULOS, Greece:

    What are the risks? We don't know. But I want to stand for the people. I don't know if that makes any meaning. But that's what I want, stand for the people, not for the banks.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    Veteran actress Lydia Lenossi is famous for her performances on stage, film and television. But if she wants to pursue her craft these days, she knows she has to do it for free. Her sign says "No giving into blackmail."

  • LYDIA LENOSSI, Actress:

    When I tell you that we don't get paid, how can I explain how difficult it is? It is very difficult. We cannot live. In Greece, we cannot live anymore. They want us to die. They want us to extinguish Greece. I would like to say no. That's it. That's it, five years, 12,000 suicides.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    Today dawned with storm clouds, as a series of crucial meetings loomed, with the European Union determined to force concessions from Greece.

    Although more than a billion dollars a day was being withdrawn from banks last week, the cash machines were still working, and fears that the banks might be closed for business failed to materialize. Conservative politician Anna Asimakopoulou is relieved that the Syriza government appears to have come up with a deal that may fend off bankruptcy, but she doesn't like the details.

  • ANNA ASIMAKOPOULOU, New Democracy Party:

    Everything we hear is really taxes, taxes and more taxes. And that's clearly not going to bring growth. So, that's our major objection to the contents of the deal. But, having said that, a deal is clearly much better than no deal. And, unfortunately, Mr. Tsipras has now brought us to this horrible situation.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    Greek American investment adviser Philip Ammerman is doubtful whether the extra taxes offered to creditors will materialize.

  • PHILIP AMMERMAN, Investment Adviser:

    I would say I think it's extremely dangerous. I think it's been dangerous probably for the last two months. There's a huge lack of trust on either side. This is probably merited from the — from how the negotiations have proceeded. There is also a lot of misinformation.

  • MALCOLM BRABANT:

    It's by no means certain that a deal will be finalized that will enable Greece to get its hands on the next tranche of $8 billion from the bailout fund. But the government here certainly believes that the country has been saved.

    And the president of the European Commission is pleased that, at last, he has got some proposals from Greece that he likes. He, like many others, wants to see an end to this high-stakes game of poker. But, today, the Greeks took out $2 billion from the banks, and they're running out of cash.

    And the European Central Bank is going to have to put more liquidity into the Greek banking system to make sure that they can open tomorrow and that the country doesn't panic.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," this is Malcolm Brabant in Athens.

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