Finance ministers haggled into the night in Brussels over the terms of new loans for Greece, as European governments moved closer toward a second rescue deal for the ailing nation, Bloomberg reported.
Prospects for reaching a deal are good, though more talks are necessary, a European diplomat told the news agency.
French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said Monday, “We have all the elements for an accord,” according to AFP. The negotiations have been going on for six months, with Greece’s future hanging in the balance, between rescue and eviction from the eurozone.
According to the Associated Press, securing the $170 billion bailout is vital to Greece, so it can go ahead with a related $130 billion debt relief deal with private investors and stave off defaulting on bond repayments on March 20.
Bankruptcy would probably mean that Greece would have to leave the 17-country eurozone and go back to its old currency, further destabilizing its economy. This is the second bailout sought by Greece.
Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg and chairman of the eurozone finance ministers group, said, “The Greek side has fulfilled many of the conditions that we pressed for. I am of the opinion that today we have to deliver, because we don't have any more time,” according to the BBC.
The Greek finance minister, Evangelis Venizelos, said in a statement, “The Greek people send to Europe the message that they have made, and will make, the necessary sacrifices for our country to regain its position of equality within the European family,” reported the BBC.
Last week, the Greek government approved austerity measures that included a 22 percent cut in the country’s minimum wage and the elimination of 15,000 government jobs, said Voice of America. Greek workers have been protesting in the last few days against the austerity measures, with some spots of violent clashes.
More on GlobalPost: Greeks protest ahead of EU bailout vote (VIDEO)
Bloomberg reported that European stocks rose to a six-month high before the bailout talks.
Initial optimism about the Greek bailout being approved was dampened when the Dutch and Germans refused to endorse the package, said the Guardian. Jan Kees de Jager, the Dutch finance minister, reiterated tough conditions for the bailout to be approved, including a provision for non-Greek fiscal watchdogs to be placed in Athens. He said, "Greece wants the money and so far we haven't given them anything. We have said no over the past weeks. We can afford to say to no until Greece has met all the demands."
The International Monetary Fund has also indicated that though it contributed nearly a third to the first Greek rescue package, it is only willing to pay 10 to 15 percent this time, leaving the eurozone governments to contribute more, according to the Guardian.
An analysis by the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission, obtained by Reuters, showed that Greece's debt could hit 160 percent of its gross domestic product by 2020 if it doesn't follow through on structural reforms and other measures.
Here are French Finance Minister Francois Baroin's words on the talks before they commenced, from euronews: