German Chancellor Angela Merkel votes in parliament
Vienna - XINHUA
The Austrian parliament approved a mandate for the government to negotiate a new Greek bailout package after heated debate on Friday.
In a special session of the National Council, the mandate was passed with a simple majority vote from the two parties of the ruling coalition government.
Chancellor Werner Faymann said the planned three-year bailout worth up to 86 billion euros (93 billion U.S. dollars) is a "first step on a tough path." He said there is no quick solution, but the new bailout program represents an attempt to avert a so-called Grexit.
Finance Minister Hans-Joerg Schelling also defended the planned measures, and rejected criticism that it was simply an austerity package, saying it was more about privatization, reforming the employment market, and modernizing administration.
Leader of the right-wing Freedom Party Heinz-Christian Strache said "money will continue to be burned" and that an orderly exit for Greece would be "sensible."
Green party leader Eva Glawischnig said her party is concerned that the new measures are simply delaying an eventual Grexit, while Team Stronach party leader Waltraud Dietrich noted an "incredible" 216 billion euros have already been used to bail Greece out, amounting to about 1,000 euros cost per Austrian.
Opposition parties also said they fear the bulk of the bailout funds will go toward debt repayment and banks rather than the Greek populace and businesses. (1 euro = 1.08 U.S. dollars)