June 22 (UPI) — Eurozone countries said Friday they brokered a historic relief deal offering Greece more time to pay off billions of dollars in debt.
Finance ministers from 19 nations agreed to the deal after hours of talks in Luxembourg, giving Greece another 10 years to pay off nearly $112 billion in loans. During that time, Athens will pay little to no interest.
The accord will also give Greece a final $17 billion installment of bailout money to help build up cash reserves that can sustain the nation over the coming months.
“It is an exceptional moment,” Pierre Moscovici, the European Union’s economy commissioner, said after the negotiations. “The Greek crisis ends here tonight in Luxembourg.”
Moscovici said the deal was a “historic” moment for Greece and would allow for the country to stand on its “own two feet.”
Greece’s current bailout program is due to end in August. The nation has had three bailout programs since 2010. Although the Greek economy has since stabilized, the nation’s debt has increased to 180 percent of its GDP.
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said the deal would signal a new chapter for his nation.
“I think Greece is turning a page,” Tsakalotos said. “I think that it has all the building blocks there to leave the program with confidence that we can access the markets, that we can implement our growth strategy and turn the agenda away from one of fiscal adjustment, which has been completed, to one of growth.”
The International Monetary Fund welcomed the debt relief deal and said it would further examine the sustainability of Greece’s debt.
“The additional debt relief measures announced today will mitigate Greece’s medium-term refinancing risks and improve its medium-term debt prospects, both of which are very welcome results,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement. “This will be good for Greece and good for the euro area.”