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Germany approves the extension of Greece’s bailout programme

Carsten Koall/Getty ImagesGermany’s and Greece’s finance ministers Wolfgang Schauble (L) and Yanis Varoufakis (R) shake their hands at a press conference in Berlin on February 5, 2015.The Bundestag, the German parliament, has just voted in favour of an extension to the Greek bailout programme. 
The motion was approved by 542 votes. 32 MPs voted against it. 
German cancellor Angela Merkel had supported the extension, but many members of her own Christian Democratic party (CDU) had expressed critical view on further extensions to the Greek bailout in the last weeks. 
The main opposition party, the Green, had seconded the motion too. 
Speaking to the parliament ahead of the vote, finance minister Wolfgang Schauble had promised Greece would not be allowed to “blackmail” its euro zone partners. At the same time, Schauble expressed his own personal concerns about the Greece ability to lift out of the crisis, saying that the

decision to allow the extension was very hard to take. “We find it incredibly difficult. Every one of us,” he said, German newspaper Die Welt reports.
According to Reuters, today’s vote in the Bundestag was the only major national vote for the four-month extension, which was already given the OK from the Eurogroup on Tuesday
Greece’s is seeking a four-month loan extension from its creditors. These include both international institutions, like the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and sovereign states.
Germany is among the biggest creditors to Greece and, at the same time, one of the staunchiest critic to a rescue plan for the Hellenic economy. This meant that today’s vote was particulary significant.
Athens will now have four more months to pass much needed economic reforms and cut its debt, but it is already facing internal opposition to some of these reforms. 
The current Greek government won the elections in January promising to damp the austherity and drop out of the bailout scheme, but it has mitigated its positions since it first met with other European partners earlier this month.
Many critics in Greece are viewing the negotiation as a surrender to the requests of the Eurozone, mainly voiced by Germany, and yesterday the Greek government faced the first wave of protests on street since it took office at the end of January.

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