Greece appeals to creditors to approve debt relief measures

Posted May 23, 2017

Euro-area finance ministers committed last May to a set of potential measures to ease the repayment terms on Greek bailout loans after the end of the program in 2018, but the degree to which these measures will be implemented is still a subject of contention.

The 39-year-old also argued for debt relief in 2015 when he was economy minster under then president Francois Hollande - the only minister who did "everything possible" for this, according to former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

"Greece has assumed its responsibilities", he said, referring to measures on pension cuts, tax hikes and reforms adopted on Thursday by the Greek Parliament.

Greece will make a fresh appeal for debt relief at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels tomorrow, after Greek MPs defied violent protests to pass austerity measures demanded by the country's creditors.

He said the International Monetary Fund, which euro zone ministers want to join the Greek bailout, has asked for more details on how far debt relief could go and what it would look like before it joins the programme.

If there is a debt deal, Athens has tentative plans for a return to bond markets as early as July.

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Macron told Tsipras he was in favour of "finding a deal soon to alleviate the weight of Greece's debt over time", a statement from the presidenct said.

While Mr Le Maire said it is "important there be a solution that reassures the Greek people and of course reassures Greece's creditors", Mr Schaeuble insisted that "structural reforms are the decisive thing" to improve Greek growth. Without the money, Greece would struggle to meet its obligations and would again face another brush with bankruptcy, as it has done on various occasions over the past seven years, most recently in the summer of 2015.

The meeting will be the first for French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, named to his post last week by newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron, a pro-EU centrist.

Analysts say the main reason why Greece has taken a step back is its stalled bailout negotiations.

Speaking at a regular government news conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission were not far apart in their assessment on Greece. And the country's debt burden stands at around 175 percent, a level that the Greek government thinks is unsustainable in the long-term - hence its insistence on some debt relief, at least in the form of lower interest payments and longer repayment terms.