Parliament approves Greek bailout plan
Riigikogu, the Estonian Parliament, convened for an extraordinary session today to vote on the latest Greek bailout plan. Despite criticism from the opposition parties and some members of IRL, the draft memorandum was passed by 50 votes in support and 37 against.
Greece asked for the third bailout on July 8. Greece and eurozone leaders agreed on political terms four days later and the bailout plan was approved by eurozone financial ministers on Friday. However, according to the European Stability Mechanism ratification legislation, individual approvals of all EU member states are also required.
The Estonian Parliament considered the 86-billion-euro bailout plan today. The Parliament's European Union Affairs Committee (ELAK) and the Finance Committee met yesterday ahead of the special session to discuss the proposed terms. Yesterday, ELAK rejected the government's proposal for a bridge loan of 6.4 billion euros to Greece should the approval of the bailout plan fail in the Parliament today, or should one or more of the eurozone members veto the plan.
Parties divided on bailout plan
ELAK chairman and Reform Party MP Kalle Palling said the vote is a largely a formality since Estonia is not taking on any additional responsibilities by approving the bailout. Although each country has a chance to veto the agreement, this would be unacceptable as member states must show solidarity with each other, he said.
Whereas Palling did not expect the vote to be preceded by heated debates, IRL leader Margus Tsahkna had very different expectations of today's extraordinary session.
"IRL holds important that we don't write off any loans Greece already owes," he said, adding that the conservative coalition party is reluctant to increase Estonia's commitment to EU-guaranteed loans. However, it was Finance Minister Sven Sester – who belongs to IRL – who had the task to present the plan on behalf of the government.
All three opposition parties – the Center Party, the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), and the Estonian Free Party – shared a similar stance.
"The only thing that would help Greece now is to exclude it from eurozone and restructure, that is partially write off, its debt," EKRE vice-chairman Martin Helme said.
Free Party MP Artur Talvik said they are not eager to offer any guarantees to Greek loans either, but the vote is indeed a formality, since its result has already been decided.