Germany's Bundestag Approves Greece Bailout Extension
Lawmakers in Germany have overwhelmingly voted for a four-month extension of the bailout program agreed between Greece and the "Troika" of international lenders.
Out of 631 lawmakers present, 542 approved, with 32 against and 13 choosing to abstain.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble vowed before the vote that Berlin will not allow any form of "blackmail" from Athens, referring to prolonged negotiations and resistance to continuing reform voiced by the new SYRIZA-led government.
Support from Germany is seen as essential for the deal to be upheld, though several EU member states apart from it are required to hold a vote as well. Parliaments in the Netherlands and Estonia have already given the thumbs up, according to German weekly Der Spiegel.
The bailout extension was agreed by Eurogroup ministers last week. It does not bring about any financial commitments on behalf of the "Troika", but gives Greece time to make reforms and unfreeze presently blocked money from EU funds.
On Thursday evening, hours before the vote, the first anti-government protests against SYRIZA were held in Athens over the cabinet's decision to pursue reform in return for more money from the creditors.
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