Euro finance ministers seek to conclude Greek bailout saga


The Greek PM - who hates ties - in 2015 said he would put one on "only when (Greece's) debt is cut".

The agreement grants Greece a 10-year extension to repay €96.9 billion worth of loans covering roughly half of Europe's financial aid to Athens since 2010.

Eurozone President and Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno said at a press conference shortly after the meeting "after eight long years Greece will finally be graduating from its financial assistance".

"A new chapter is opening for the country, but that does not mean that we should abandon the prudent path of fiscal balance and structural reforms our country needs", Tsipras said in statements broadcast live on Greek public broadcaster ERT.

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"Tomorrow we are expecting a decision for the adjustment of Greece's debt which will mark the end of an ordeal for Greece, and the end of austerity", Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in Athens on Wednesday.

Unlike the first two Greek bailouts, the International Monetary Fund did not join the latest Greek programme with it its own loans, but will continue to monitor Greece's performance alongside the euro zone. The profit emerged from interest rates through purchases of Greek government bonds under the Securities Markets Program (SMP) of the European Central Bank (ECB).

The fund will begin assessing the sustainability of the Greek debt "as early as next week", Lagarde said, adding that the fund will remain engaged in Greece and will participate to the monitoring of the Greek economic performance and reforms after the end of the programme.

"The problem of the Greek debt is behind us now", France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters.

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The ministers finalised the last revision of the third bailout program after verifying that Athens has complied with the 88 requirements, and consequently approved a final disbursement of 15 billion euros.

"We are very close to the moment when we will reap the fruits of years of sacrifices and hard efforts by the Greek people", he said.

The eight-year crisis toppled four governments and shrank the economy by 25 percent. The country has required three global bailouts.

On the other hand, Greece must achieve ambitious primary budget surpluses - that is, surpluses that exclude the cost of debt servicing - of 3.5 percent until 2022, and an average 2.2 percent from then to 2060.

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