Greece hoping to finally secure long-term debt relief deal


The decision by eurozone finance ministers reflects economic policy actions already taken by Greece and the new commitment by the IMF's managing director Christine Lagarde to recommend that her board contribute financially to this bailout.

This time it was more about German politics and the insistence on an International Monetary Fund financial contribution while being reluctant to agree up-front the commitments on debt relief that the International Monetary Fund thinks essential to make the Greek finances sustainable.

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 IMF, however, says euro zone assumptions on Greek economic growth and the country's ability to keep a high primary surplus are unrealistic and that Athens clearly needs debt relief if it is to win back investor confidence and return to market financing.

Tsipras said the answer to Greece's unsustainable debt mountain was sustainable and "socially just" growth, adding: "So that this is possible, a debt restructuring is necessary so that the Greek economy can breathe and regain markets' trust".

Social Democrats in the European Parliament also urged Schaeuble to drop his resistance to debt relief for Greece. "The figure will only come at the end of the programme", he said.

Thomas Oppermann, senior member of the co-governing Social Democrats (SPD), told Bild newspaper: "Schaeuble must put his cards on the table ahead of the election and say what German taxpayers will have to expect".

A Greek government official close to the talks told Athens News Agency, "We are far from finding a solution for the Eurogroup tomorrow, given that Germany has made no progress".

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International Monetary Fund chief Lagarde has suggested a deal whereby the International Monetary Fund would stay on board in the bailout, as Berlin wants, but not pay out further aid until debt relief measures are clarified.

Under the terms of its 2015 bailout deal, Greece's European creditors had promised to provide cash and find a way to lighten the country's long-term debt load - as long as the government kept a lid on spending and deeply reformed the Greek economy.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire expressed optimism about Greece reaching a deal on new loans from its European creditors after talks with his Greek counterpart and Tsipras in Athens.

The Greek government, whose popularity has fallen sharply as it imposed more austerity measures, faced more criticism on Thursday when more than 2,000 older protesters marched through Athens to demonstrate against pension cuts.

Deutsche Welle quoted sources close to German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Wednesday as saying that Greece's "obsession" with the French proposal was "a waste of time".

"Today we will give more clarity to Greece", he said as he joined the gathering in Luxembourg.

European leaders, Rahman said, "want to spend their limited political capital addressing these challenges and the future of the EU, not yesterday's problems, which is how they see Greece".

"We can't live on 300 euros" they chanted.