Berlin, Mar 15: Euro zone finance ministers on Wednesday formally approved the second 130-billion-euro financial bailout for debt-laden Greece and ordered the release of the first instalment of 39.4 billion euros to avert a bankruptcy.
They appreciated the steps taken by the Greek government so far to implement wide-ranging reforms and tough austerity measures agreed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for the assistance.
They also lobbed the deal reached last week between the Greek government and its private creditors on a voluntary bond exchange programme, which will reduce its debt mountain to a sustainable level over the next eight years.
After Greece fulfilled all conditions set by the EU and the IMF to receive the assistance, “all required national and parliamentary procedures” also have been completed, Luxembourg's prime minister and chairman of the euro group Jean-Claude Juncker said.
The ministers have asked the euro zone's temporary bailout fund European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to disburse the first tranche, which Greece urgently needs to avoid defaulting on its repayment obligations for 14.5 billion euro debts due on March 20.
A part of the assistance will also be used to finance the write-down of Greece's debts by private creditors.
The second financial rescue programme, which runs until 2014, is a “unique opportunity” for Greece to take its economy back to a sustainable path and it should not be missed, Juncker said in a press statement after a conference call of senior finance ministry officials of the 17 nations using the euro.