Eurozone Ministers Endorse Greek Bailout

Dutch Finance Minister and chairman of the eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem, left, shakes hands with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos during a meeting of eurozone finance ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels, Aug. 14, 2015.

VOA News,August 15, 2015

Eurozone finance ministers in Brussels have approved the first $29-billion payment of a $93-billion bailout deal for Greece after the Greek Parliament approved the package earlier Friday.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who took part in the meeting by teleconference, said in a statement that Greece must be given more debt relief.

"I remain firmly of the view that Greece's debt has become unsustainable and that Greece cannot restore debt sustainability solely through actions on its own," she said.

Lagarde also said it is too soon to say whether the IMF would participate in the bailout, saying the IMF's board will consider the matter in October.

Finance ministers at Friday's meeting said they are willing to consider additional measures. However, several Eurozone countries have previously said they oppose any additional debt relief for Greece.

The bailout package passed the Greek parliament by a comfortable margin, but many lawmakers from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' leftist Syriza party voted against the deal.

Growing discord within Syriza could split the party and lead to early elections. The stock market in Athens slid in afternoon trading.

Tsipras told lawmakers that the bailout package is a "necessary choice" for the nation, despite unwelcome tax hikes and spending cuts.

Greece needs the money from international creditors by August 20, when it must repay about $3.5 billion in debt to the European Central Bank.

Greece has been in financial turmoil for more than five years and had already received two bailouts when it came dangerously close to defaulting in June.