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Is Greek debt deal really a breakthrough?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 01:43

The euro zone gave Greece its firmest offer yet of debt relief. As Ivor Bennett reports, finance ministers called the deal a breakthrough as it won a provisional commitment from the IMF to return to taking part in the bailout for Athens.

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It doesn't look like they've got much to celebrate. but then again, this is the morning after the very late night before. Emerging well after midnight, euro group finance ministers finally announced a breakthrough. A further 10.3 billion euros in loans, AND a deal on debt relief. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROGROUP PRESIDENT JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM, SAYING: "This is very good news, already this part of the agreement of today is very good news because it shows that the program is fully back on track. Greece has done a lot, delivering a lot and we are making good progress there." The debt relief's not immediate nor is it unconditional Instead, there's an option of payment extensions from 2018 IF needed. It's designed to satisfy both Germany - who oppose a haircut - and crucially, the IMF, who signalled they may now come back to the table. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY WORLDWIDE INVESTMENT, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "I think it is an acceptance that the level of austerity which has been demanded of Greece, is simply unrealistic. It is probably preventing Greece from getting back to a position of a sustainable economy." Greece's 10-year government bond yield fell to a six-month low. But there was no dancing in the streets of Athens. Like their governments, 'breakthroughs' have come and gone. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) 67-YEAR-OLD RETIRED UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, YANNIS PROTONOTARIOS, SAYING: "If they do what they pledged to do, then something might be done. But seriously I doubt it." (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) 57-YEAR-OLD UNEMPLOYED ATHENS RESIDENT, NIKOS, SAYING: "Unfortunately the situation we are now facing has been building up over many years. Let's hope that it won't take as many years to get over it." Owing more than 300 billion euros, that seems unlikely. Some discussions around debt relief mentioning the year 2060.

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Is Greek debt deal really a breakthrough?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 01:43