Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the I.M.F., said she was prepared to recommend joining the bailout even though there was still work to do on how to ease the country’s debt burden. “I hope that the discussion over specific debt relief measures can soon be brought to conclusion,” she said.
Even so, Ms. Lagarde said she would formally recommend participation in the bailout totaling $2 billion on what she described as a standby basis.
The difficulty in completing a deal has centered on a long-running showdown among creditors. On one side, several eurozone countries led by Germany want Athens to carry out what they view as reforms before specifying debt concessions that could go into force next year at the earliest. On the other, the I.M.F., along with policy makers in Brussels and the government in Athens, have been pushing for immediate commitments on the details of eventual debt relief.
The standoff has highlighted the problems of managing the sprawling 19-nation area that uses the euro, and comes despite recent signs that regional leaders had tamed crises that have plagued the monetary union for much of the past decade.
Greece, which has been on international financial life support since 2010, has been in recession on and off for years. In that time, its economy has shrunk by nearly a fifth, and unemployment now stands at just under 25 percent. The latest tranche of funds are part of an €86 billion bailout, Greece’s third rescue since the crisis erupted.
Despite the high stakes, the agreement to provide Athens with the latest funds came down to the wire. The country reached a preliminary deal with representatives of its creditors more than a month ago to release the money, suggesting that an agreement was all but done. And while Greece could have pushed for an emergency meeting at a European Union summit meeting next week, that would have been a last-minute gamble.
On Thursday, Greece was offered bailout money above its immediate needs to service its debt. It also received some clarity about eventual measures to ease the country’s debt burden in the medium term.
Those measures included extending the final due dates on some Greek debt for up to 15 years, to around midcentury, to make it easier to pay.
In another concession, the Eurogroup formally agreed to discuss a longer-term French plan to link the scale of Greek bond repayments to the country’s level of economic growth.
While eurozone leaders appear to have avoided the short-term threat of a Greek default, much remains at stake politically for Athens and Berlin.
Germany, the currency area’s largest economy and its de facto leader, will hold national elections in September, and the country’s leaders, including the hard-line Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, have shown little appetite to be specific about which concessions Greece were promised. Along with their counterparts in the Netherlands, German politicians are wary of the domestic consequences of appearing to ask German taxpayers to foot the bill for Greek largess.
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