Eurogroup seals historic agreement on Greek debt relief

Germany turns out to be a major beneficiary of Greece’s debt crisis as it earned a total of 2.9 billion euros since 2010

However, the key part of the agreement are the relief measures that should allow the Greek debt, which is close to 180 per cent of GDP, to be sustainable and the markets to regain confidence in Athens' ability to honour their commitments.

The ministers also agreed that Greece could defer repayment of part of the loans by 10 years.

"A new chapter is opening for the country, but that does not mean that we should abandon the prudent path of fiscal balance and structural reforms our country needs", Tsipras said in statements broadcast live on Greek public broadcaster ERT.

Finance Ministers Euclid Tsakalotos told reporters the deal made Greek debt viable again and paved the way for a return to market financing. A deal to ease Greek debt has always been seen as a key ingredient in the country's successful return to economic health and foray back into financial markets.

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"We are optimistic that we are on the verge of a solution with substance", spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said, adding that this would "have a multiplying effect on the momentum of the Greek economy".

The eurozone ministers' agreement comes almost a decade after Athens stunned the world with out-of-control spending, sparking three bailouts and a near collapse of the euro single currency.

"Nobody should lose money of course", said European Union (EU) Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici at a news briefing in Brussels on Wednesday.

"The agreed debt relief is bigger than we had expected", Citi European Economics said in a note.

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Finance Ministers from the 19 countries that use the single currency are seeking to agree on debt relief and a sizeable cash cushion for Greece that will reassure financial markets on the ability of Athens to stand on its own.

Greece's 86-billion-euro programme was agreed in 2015 after six contentious months of negotiation and is set to end this summer, bringing the level of assistance received by Athens to 273 billion euros since 2010.

On the other hand, Greece must achieve ambitious primary budget surpluses - that is, surpluses that exclude the cost of debt servicing - of 3.5 percent until 2022, and an average 2.2 percent from then to 2060. The country has required three worldwide bailouts.

The International Monetary Fund welcomed the deal saying it would improve Greek debt sustainability in the medium term.

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"We welcome the Eurogroup's readiness to consider further debt measures in the long term in case adverse economic developments were to materialize", European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said.

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