′Grexit has gone′ after eurozone leaders reach last-minute deal | News | DW | 13.07.2015
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'Grexit has gone' after eurozone leaders reach last-minute deal

Eurozone leaders have reached a deal to provide Greece with a third financial bailout. Now the Greek prime minister has to convince parliamentarians to pass a raft of austerity measures that he had promised to avoid.

European Council President Donald Tusk was the first to confirm the news of the agreement on Monday morning - after around 17 hours of negotiations in Brussels.

Shortly afterward, Tusk, along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, appeared at a press conference to unveil the agreement.

Tusk, trying to lighten the atmosphere after what by all accounts were at times heated discussions, described the bailout deal as an "agreekment" to save the financially stricken eurozone country from bankruptcy. The European Council president pledged that the deal would allow Athens to "get back on track."

"Grexit has gone," Juncker said, referring to the scenario of Greece being forced out of the eurozone, if a deal had not been reached.

Speaking to reporters a few minutes later, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appeared to have started the difficult job of trying to sell the deal as a victory for his anti-austerity coalition government.

"We fought a righteous battle to the end," Tsipras said as he left the talks, adding that despite the tough measures contained in the deal, the "great majority of Greek people will support this effort."

"We managed to avoid the most extreme measures," he said, describing the deal as a signal of "dignity" to all of Europe.

In her remarks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that despite the fact that the agreement provides for some debt relief for Athens, there would be no fresh debt "haircut" for Greece.

She also noted that "trust needs to be rebuilt" between Greece and its creditors, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Achieving this and implementing the terms of the bailout would not be easy, she warned.

"The road will be long, and judging by the negotiations tonight, difficult," Merkel said. "Greece has a chance to return to the path of growth, but "it will be a long road."

The agreement announced on Monday will require Tsipras to push a raft of austerity measures through the Greek parliament in the near future, including spending cuts, tax increases and pension reforms. These are just the sort of reforms that Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza party vowed to stop in their successful January election campaign. Shortly after the deal was announced, his labor minister warned that it wasn't clear whether there was a parliamentary majority prepared to endorse it.

The joint statement released by the eurozone leaders about the deal said that none of the other countries would move to approve the deal until the measures have been passed by Greece.

Among the most controversial measures was an independent fund, in which Greek assets are to be gathered and eventually privatized, with the goal of raising 50 billion euros ($53 billion) to repay Greek debts and recapitalize its ailing banks. One of the concessions Tsipras appeared to have won, is that this fund is to be located in Greece and not in Luxembourg as originally proposed.

The deal came with Greece's banks still shut and capital controls allowing their customers to withdraw a maximum of 60 euros per day from ATMs - at least the ones that are stocked with cash.

In view of the urgent need for liquidity, Eurogroup boss Dijsselbloem said eurozone ministers would meet in a few hours' time to discuss ways of quickly funneling money to Greece through so-called bridge financing.

pfd/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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