Meeting in Brussels on Friday, finance ministers from the 19 eurozone countries have given their approval to the latest bailout for Greece. Their decision comes the same day Greek lawmakers voted to approve the measure following an all-night debate in parliament.
"New loans of up to 86 billion euros will be made available over the next three years to Greece," the European Commission said in a statement at the end of the talks.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker praised Greece and the eurozone countries for working together to find common ground after six months that "have tested the patience of policy-makers and … our citizens even more."
"Greece is living up to its ambitious reform commitments agreed on July 13," Juncker said. "The other eurozone countries are delivering on their promise of continued solidarity made on the same day. The message of today's Eurogroup is loud and clear: on this basis, Greece is and will irreversibly remain a member of the euro area."
Approval from the eurozone was the next step for Greece as the country seeks a third international bailout to bring it back from the brink of defaulting on previous international loans. Now, certain national parliaments of eurozone members - including the German Bundestag - must ratify the measures.
Tough sell in Athens
The Greek parliament has already done so. Overnight, Greek parliamentarians took part in a long and heated debate before finally approving the 86-billion-euro ($96 billion) bailout to keep the country financially afloat. The terms of the deal had been reached a few days prior between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Greece's foreign creditors.
During the all-night debate ahead of the vote, Tsipras urged lawmakers to make the "necessary choice" for the Greek nation, strongly warning against the option of a bridging loan, incidentally a German proposal, because it would hurl Greece back into a "crisis without end."
The latest bailout is the third for Athens in five years. Many critics believe additional bailout funds will only worsen the county's battered economy and unemployment problems. The conditions for the latest loan include further spending cuts in Greece, pension reforms, and market liberalizations.
Although the bailout passed the Greek parliament, Tsipras continues to lose the support of members within his own Syriza party. Only 118 of the 162 members of Tsipras' governing coalition (comprising Syriza and the small right-wing Independent Greeks) voted in favor of the bailout. Greek state television has reported Tripras would call a vote of confidence in his government this month, but this has not been confirmed.
mz/sgb (Reuters, dpa, AFP)