Greece hoping to finally secure long-term debt relief deal

Greece’s global lenders prepared on Thursday to unblock as much as 8.5 billion euros (7.44 billion pounds) in loans that Athens desperately needs next month to pay its bills, and to give some idea of what debt relief they may offer over the long-term.”Today we will give more clarity to Greece”, he said as he joined the gathering in Luxembourg.”We are really doing our best to find an agreement”, said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire after talks on Monday with his Greek counterpart Euclid Tsakalotos.This Eurogroup meeting, he said, may be “decisive” in that it will be “very positive for Greece and the Greek people”.Without it, the country would have been facing possible bankruptcy next month.Mr Dijsselbloem says the exit strategy will “enable Greece to stand on its own feet again next year”.Social Democrats in the European Parliament also urged Schaeuble to drop his resistance to debt relief for Greece.The European Union’s top economy official, France’s Pierre Moscovici, said Greece has respected its commitments for economic reforms and that it is now time for its creditors to “take their’s”.The chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters the size of the payment to Athens would be discussed during the meeting, since lenders agreed that Greece had pushed through all the requested reforms.International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers meet in Luxembourg with hopes riding high that the talks will secure the release of the latest tranche of Greece’s 86-billion euro (US$97 billion) bailout agreed in 2015.Given that the Greek government has delivered on a wide array of economic reforms that were required for the payout of the next installment of rescue loans, the main focus of Thursday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers is on the debt relief discussions.The IMF had insisted repeatedly that Greece’s debt is not sustainable and the country would require significant debt relief from Europe before the fund could approve a new loan programme.They said in their statement that the exact mechanism of how to link debt relief to growth would be worked on as of 2018 by deputy finance ministers and treasury officials and be announced after the bailout ends, together with the whole debt deal. A full agreement would away agreement on debt relief from Greece’s European creditors that the worldwide financial agency has demanded.He expected Greece and its global lenders to reach a compromise deal and said a “fair solution” would be found on debt relief.For Greece, Thursday’s agreement should limit the amount it has to pay out in debt servicing each year, freeing up money it can use to help the Greek economy and society.On Thursday, some 1,500 pensioners protested in Athens against more than a dozen rounds of pension cuts since austerity was enforced seven years ago.”It’s not about giving Greece money, but rather about not giving Greece money”, he said, adding that the next steps were about “an ambitious growth program … based not on new debt, but on targeted initiatives to promote private investment in all of Greece”.”We can’t live on 300 euros!” they chanted, with some waving sticks.