Greek bailout plan expected to be approved

Updated: 2012-02-21 01:52


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BRUSSELS - Eurozone officials had indicated that they would approve a second bailout program for Greece later on Monday after Athens had agreed to all the terms demanded by international creditors.

"I would like to assume that we can reach final and concluding negotiations today," Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker said as he arrived for a meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

"The Greek side has fulfilled many preparatory efforts we had demanded. We have to conclude today, there's no more time to waste, " Juncker, who is also Luxembourg's prime minister, told reporters.

His words were echoed by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said Monday's meeting was aimed to "finalize the decision on a new rescue package for Greece," and French Finance Minister Francois Baroin saying "Today we have all the elements we need to reach a deal."

Meanwhile, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), also sent a positive message on the Greek bailout program.
"Greece has obviously made significant efforts, and now we need to continue the work and that the entirety of the elements, particularly furnished by the other parties, is also put into place," Lagarde said before the meeting that opened in the afternoon.

The development came after Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos announced Sunday that the Greek authorities had managed to find additional spending cuts of 325 million euros (about 431 million US dollars) for 2012.

Leaders of major political parties in the Greek coalition government have also sent letters of commitments to the European Commission and the Greek parliament had approved the bailout plan on February 12, meaning Athens has now met all the three demands raised by international creditors in exchange for additional funding.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos also expected the bailout deal to be approved at the meeting.

"It is obvious that we anticipate to see a long period of uncertainty coming to a close today, a period that benefited neither the Greek economy, nor the Euro Area overall," he said in an statement emailed to reporters earlier Monday.

"Greece comes into today's Eurogroup meeting having fulfilled all the requirements for the approval of the new program," Venizelos said.

"The Greek people is sending Europe the message that they have, and they will, make the necessary sacrifices in order for our country to regain its place within the European family, thus protecting the achievements of many decades in the past," the Greek finance minister said in the statement.

On his arrival at the meeting in Brussels, Venizelos told reporters that "we are here, ready to conclude today this long process on the new Greek program, and also we are ready to initiate the official procedure on the private sector involvement."

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