Greece hoping to finally secure long-term debt relief deal


The Washington-based International Monetary Fund had refused to take part in this third Greek bailout until European creditors agreed on far-reaching proposals to ease Greece's debt burden.

Thursday's compromise shows the disagreement has yet to be fully bridged. Also, following a recommendation from the new French government of President Emmanuel Macron, the possibility was raised of linking Greek repayments to growth, which could mean debt repayments being postponed in the event of an adverse shock.

Greece's creditors said on Thursday they would release a further tranche of funds to Athens and the International Monetary Fund said it stood ready to offer a standby arrangement, removing considerable uncertainty over the fate of the Greek bailout program.

Among the measures offered to Greece was a possible 15-year extension in debt and interest payments due European creditors. "The figure will only come at the end of the program".

If there is no deal, Tsipras said he will take up the issue with European Union leaders at a summit in brussels next week, a situation that the eurozone ministers will do everything to avoid.

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.

June's Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg finally managed to wrap up an agreement on Greece, after months of uncertainty. It needs to be a "success", he added.

Debt relief has been a hard sell in Germany, the biggest contributor to Greek bailouts over the years, though it is also unpopular in other countries, notably in poor Eastern Europe, where Greek welfare support seems generous to many.

Macron's position puts him at odds with Germany where Greek debt relief-following three different bailouts with public money for the country since 2010-is seen as a vote loser ahead of general elections in September.

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".

"We can't live on 300 euros ($334)!" they chanted, with some waving sticks.

Finance ministers from the 19 European countries using the euro currency are meeting in Luxembourg Thursday to decide whether to unfreeze the latest installment of Greece's rescue loans and to discuss potential debt relief measures to be enacted when the bailout program ends next year.

But ministers said that while Greece would get more "clarity" on a long-desired agreement on cutting its mountain of debt, there could be no actual deal on that subject until later.

Many voices, especially in emerging markets, have criticized this exemption, which they said gave preferential treatment to rich European countries, leeway they never allowed to emerging and developing countries, which had to agree to harsh reforms and tough oversight to receive loans.

The IMF, which took part in Greece's two previous bailouts, has long insisted that more debt relief be part of a deal.

"I hope that today we will take a very positive step forward".

Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece's finance minister, said he is "confident" about the prospects of a deal later.