The Greek Parliament approves 2012 budget with a majority of 258 against 41 in a step considered positive for slashing the country's huge budget deficit, improving its credit rating and keeping Greece in the euro area.

The fiscal plan would reduce the shortfall to 5.4% of GDP yet, on the other hand, growth will record 5.5% contraction this year and 2.8% in 2012.

After securing an 8-billion euro installment of last year's bailout, Greek Prime Minister Papademos said Greece is and will remain a member of a united Europe and the euro area, where he is now looking for the second bailout that would make Greece avoid default.