ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece concluded its tortuous negotiations with its international debt inspectors Tuesday, reaching a deal that will allow the release of a long-delayed rescue loan installment.
The deal does not contain any new austerity measures, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras insisted. In fact, some 500 million euros ($695 million) will be distributed to help more than 1 million needy Greeks.
"Today a long period of tribulations has ended, and a new beginning is being made," Samaras said. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the text of the agreement was being written up.
Greece has depended on its bailout from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund since mid-2010. Payment of the rescue loans depend on the country meeting criteria in spending cuts, tax increases and reforms, and Greece's progress in meeting the targets is reviewed regularly by the debt inspectors, collectively known as the 'troika'.
Greece began this latest round of negotiations in September with officials from the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission. Talks had snagged on several issues, including public sector firings and market reforms.
"These were seven very, very difficult months," Stournaras said.
Apart from the 500 million euros that would be distributed to Greece's poorest, Samaras said an additional 1 billion euros ($1.39 billion) would go toward paying off the state's internal debts — for goods and services received from the Greek private sector. That will raise to 2.8 billion euros the amount it will pay off in internal debts in 2014.