Germany's parliament has approved an extension of Greece's financial bailout for a further four months. The outcome of the vote was never in doubt, despite misgivings about recent comments by the Greek finance minister.
Bundestag deputies approved the four-month extension of the Greek bailout on Friday, by a vote of 542 in favor, 32 against. There were 13 abstentions.
The vote followed a two-hour-long debate on the motion brought by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
The finance minister himself opened the debate with an appeal to his fellow parliamentarians to approve the extension, despite the misgivings of some parliamentarians, particularly over renewed talk of a debt write-down by his Greek counterpart, Yanis Varoufakis earlier this week.
Schäuble said his decision to call on the Bundestag to approve the extension had not been an easy one and that Varoufakis' renewed talks of a "haircut" had not made it any easier. He also sought to reassure parliamentarians about the cost to German taxpayers.
"We're not talking about new billions for Greece, we're not talking about any changes to this program - rather it's about providing or granting extra time to successfully end this program," Schäuble said, adding that solidarity among members of the eurozone "doesn't mean you can blackmail each other."
But he also warned that "Greece must do its part. Solidarity of course, also has something to do with reliability."
The finance minister also stressed that extending the bailout was not just in Greece's but also Germany's best interests.
"Germany will only have a good future if European unification is successful and if we in Europe stand together, he said.
Voices of dissent
In the speeches that followed Schäuble's, most speakers spoke out in support of approving the extension, although members of the opposition Left party and the Greens took the opportunity to criticize the government.
The Left party's Gregor Gysi accused Chancellor Angela Merkel and Schäuble of making matters worse in Greece by insisting that the "troika" of international creditors impose strict terms on Athens, which led the country's former conservative government to implement a raft of austerity measures. "This was a kamikaze tactic," Gysi said, which ensure that Greece would never be able to pay back its debt.
A few members of the CDU-CSU bloc also said they would vote against the extension.
"Take a look at [Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras, take a look at Varoufakis," said CDU deputy Klaus-Peter Willsch. "Would you buy a used car from them?"
pfd/sms (dpa, AFP)