French MPs overwhelmingly back Greece bailout deal

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls delivers his speech about the situation in Greece. REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - French MPs overwhelmingly backed the new Greek bailout agreement on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying it was the only route out of the crisis.

The French lower house National Assembly backed the agreement by 412 votes to 69, shortly followed by the upper house Senate, which supported the bill by 260 votes to 23.

In a long, fist-pounding speech, Valls accused opponents of the agreement of trying to push Greece out of the euro zone.

"There can be no 'Grexit', nor 'temporary Grexit' - an old, absurd and dangerous idea," Valls said.

"I hear talk about humiliation. But humiliation would have been for (Greece) to be driven out of the single currency - some perhaps wanted that - while the overwhelming majority of Greeks wanted to keep it."

Several members of the French parliament criticised the deal for forcing further austerity and external control on Greece in exchange for a three-year bailout worth up to €86 billion (S$128 billion).

But Valls said the conditions of the bailout were "normal".

"If the reforms are demanding, that is because - it has to be said - they have never been carried out," said Valls.

"This agreement is not a blank cheque precisely because we are demanding a lot of the Greeks, not just to punish it, but to accompany it through a vital economic recovery."

He also painted the agreement as the only chance for France to eventually recover the billions of euros it has already lent to Greece.

"Those who vote against the agreement, those who wish for Greece's exit from the euro zone, should look the French in the eyes and tell them the truth - that that would cost the French much more money."

Some - but not all - of the 19 euro zone countries must approve the agreement through their domestic parliaments.

The most crucial vote was due to take place in the Greek parliament later on Wednesday.

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