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Greek parliament meets for first time since election

Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 18:15
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Greece's parliament met for the first time Thursday since last month's election brought the hard-left to power, with markets jittery after the ECB blocked a key source of funding for the country's banks.

[ATHENS] Greece's parliament met for the first time Thursday since last month's election brought the hard-left to power, with markets jittery after the ECB blocked a key source of funding for the country's banks.

"This session is declared open," deputy speaker Yiannis Tragakis said, before Greece's 300 deputies took their parliamentary oaths en masse in the assembly building in Athens.

The hard-left Syriza party was swept to power in January 25 elections with promises to renegotiate Greece's huge foreign loans and end years of painful austerity imposed by its international creditors, the IMF and the EU, in return for bailing out the debt-laden country.

But it received a setback late Wednesday after the European Central Bank moved to restrict the access of Greek banks to a key source of cash while these negotiations were underway.

No legislative business is expected on Thursday, and all eyes will be on Berlin, where Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is holding his first talks with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble.

Germany is the strongest opponent of any easing in the terms of Greece's 240-billion-euro (US$270 billion) bailout.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has also been visiting EU capitals this week but is back in Athens and will address Syriza lawmakers at 1230 GMT, before convening a meeting of his cabinet at 1300 GMT.

Among those who took their oath on Thursday were the 17 members of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, including a number who were released from custody for the parliamentary session.

Greek judges ruled on Wednesday that 72 people with links to Golden Dawn, including its leader Nikos Michaloliakos and several of its lawmakers, would face trial on charges including murder and participation in a criminal organisation.

AFP