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EU lenders work out plan for gradual Greek debt relief: Greek paper

EU lenders work out plan for gradual Greek debt relief: Greek paper
February 20, 2016
ATHENS – Greece's EU lenders have been working on a plan to offer the country gradual debt relief on condition it adopts additional reforms by 2022, weekly Agora newspaper reported on Saturday. The paper said that the plan discussed by officials from European Commission, the euro zone's rescue fund, the European Central Bank, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, envisages that initially there will be lower interest rates and longer maturities for Greece's 316-billion-euro debt. At a later stage, there will be talks on linking debt payments to the country's economic growth as long as Athens implements measures it will agree with its creditors by 2022, the paper added. On Thursday, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said international lenders were concerned with the quality of reforms in Greece and that even if politically difficult, the government needed to implement a pension reform and other agreed upon fiscal changes. Negotiations between the heads of the EU/IMF mission reviewing the country's progress over a tough pension reform plan, fiscal targets and the handling of bad loans, took a break earlier this month. Greece hopes the lenders will return soon to sign off the first assessment of its bailout reforms which will open the way for debt relief talks the country is desperately seeking to show austerity-weary Greeks their sacrifices are paying off. In an interview with another Greek newspaper, Economy Minister George Stathakis said the review can be wrapped up by the end of March. "The target for the Catholic Easter (March 27) is absolutely realistic," he was quoted as saying. "I believe that there will be a deal and that the most viable solution will be found." EU Council President Donald Tusk in Athens said on Feb 16 that he now felt more optimistic on the review process. –Reuters