LUXEMBOURG (AP) — The Latest on the Greek bailout discussions (all times local):
Greece’s European creditors agreed to give the cash-strapped country the next batch of money due from its bailout and outlined a series of debt relief measures they hope will foster growth.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone’s top official, said Greece has been cleared to get 8.5 billion euros ($9.5 billion), which will allow it to meet a big repayment hump this July.
He also said the International Monetary Fund was ready to provide more financial assistance to Greece via a stand-by arrangement and that Greece would get help with its debt payments in the future. Some debt repayments could be delayed by 15 years. In addition, he said Greece’s growth levels could be taken into account in its repayments.
Dijsselbloem said Thursday at the conclusion of the meeting of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers that an agreement was forged “on all elements.”
The European Union’s top economy official says it’s time for the Greek people to see the “light at the end of the tunnel of austerity.”
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers, Pierre Moscovici said the Greek government had respected its bailout commitments and that it’s now time for the country’s creditors to “take theirs.”
Moscovici said he hoped enough progress will emerge at the meeting of the so-called Eurogroup to prevent Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras from calling a summit of eurozone leaders to discuss debt relief for his country.
Greece has been promised some form of help on its long-term debt repayments if it delivered wide-ranging economic reforms and kept a tight control on its spending.
Moscovici expressed his hope that the “spirit” was there for Greece’s relations with its creditors to move to a “new phase.”
This Eurogroup meeting, he said, may be “decisive” in that it will be “very positive for Greece and the Greek people.” It needs to be a “success,” he added.
Germany’s finance minister says he is optimistic that Greece will win the approval of its peers in the 19-country eurozone s to get the next batch of rescue money due from its bailout program.
Arriving at the meeting of the of the finance ministers from the European countries that use the euro, Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was “optimistic that we will reach a result regarding the payout of the next tranche” of bailout loans.
Greece needs the money to meet roughly 7 billion euros ($7.8 billion) in debt repayments in July that it will struggle to meet from its own resources. The country remains dependent on bailout loans from other eurozone governments.
Schaeuble also said previous agreements to consider reducing the burden of Greece’s debt repayments if the country complies with all conditions remained “the framework” for talks.
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin that she hoped to see “results” at the meeting “that will help reward Greece’s efforts in such a way that further payouts are possible.”
More than 2,000 elderly protesters have marched through central Athens to protest further pension cuts imposed by the government as part of efforts to ensure Greece gets its next installment of rescue loans from European creditors.
The pensioners, some waving walking sticks, voiced outrage Thursday at the constantly diminishing size of their pensions, which many say they can no longer survive on. “We can’t live on 300 euros” they chanted.
The protest came ahead of a meeting in Luxembourg later Thursday of the 19 finance ministers from the European countries that use the euro.
The meeting is set to decide on whether Greece has done enough for the bailout funds to be released and provide more clarity over what sort of debt relief the country can expect when it exits its bailout program next year.
The eurozone’s top official says Greece will get more clarity about the sort of debt relief it will get when it concludes its third bailout program next year.
However, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the scale of the debt relief offered to Athens won’t emerge at Thursday’s meeting of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers.
He said ahead of the meeting of the so-called eurogroup: “Today, we will give more clarity to Greece.”
The International Monetary Fund, which has contributed financially to the first two bailouts but not the third, has wanted more information about what may be on offer to Greece for it to get more involved in the current program.
Dijsselbloem said he hoped the meeting will mark a “very positive step forward” that builds on “the huge effort that Greece has put in.”
Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s finance minister, said he is “confident” about the prospects of a deal later.
Greece is hoping to secure more bailout funds to meet a summer debt repayment hump as well as a debt relief deal at a meeting of finance ministers from the 19-country eurozone.
The country, which has been promised help on its mountain of debt once its bailout ends next year, is again the main topic of discussion at a meeting of the so-called eurogroup Thursday.
The main obstacle to an agreement is a difference of opinion between the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund over Greece’s long-term debt outlook.
The expectation is Greece will get the roughly 7 billion euros ($7.8 billion) due, but will struggle to clinch the outlines of a debt relief deal that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras thinks is crucial for the country’s economy in the long-term.