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June 29, 2017

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Greece reaches deal with creditors on austerity: prime minister

ATHENS--Greece on Tuesday reached agreement with its international creditors on a new wave of austerity measures necessary to unlock new bailout loans, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said.

"Today we concluded the negotiation on the measures and the budget," Samaras said in a statement, adding that approval by parliament of a new round of cuts will keep Greece in the 17-nation eurozone.

"If this deal is approved and the budget is voted, Greece will stay in the euro and exit the crisis," the prime minister said.

Samaras has warned that the country will run out of cash next month unless it can secure the release of the 31.2-billion-euro (US$40 billion) loan installment from its EU-IMF financial assistance package, which depends on progress on stalled reforms.

"If the deal does not pass... the country will be led to chaos," he said.

The PM has sought to persuade his socialist and moderate leftist allies to help push the measures through parliament by Nov. 12, when eurozone finance ministers are expected to decide on whether to release the loans.

"We did whatever was possible," Samaras said. "We achieved important improvements, even at the last minute."

Samaras's announcement wasn't welcomed by his government coalition partners.

"Such a rushed announcement ... is unfortunate, to say the least," said the Pasok socialist party's leader Evangelos Venizelos.

"The crucial political part of the negotiations is in full development," he added, having underlined that until the new measures are voted in parliament "there are possibilities of improvement without altering the fiscal goal."

The timing of Samaras's announcement was not accidental, as a eurozone finance ministers' conference call on Greece is set for Wednesday.

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