BRUSSELS — Eurozone finance ministers approved a two billion euro (US$2.1 billion) payment to Greece on Monday, declaring that Athens had successfully met the strict reform commitments demanded in the country's bailout.
The payment confirms that relations between leftist led Greece and its European creditors have significantly appeased after a six month battle earlier this year nearly saw Athens thrown out of the eurozone.
"Today's decision to disburse 2 billion euros of ESM (eurozone bailout) funds reflects the Greek government's commitment to the programme as it implemented an extensive list of essential reforms," said the head of the rescue fund, Klaus Regling.
Greece's leftist government last week narrowly pushed a bailout reform vote through parliament in order to win the payment from the 86-billion-euro bailout, Greece's third in five years.
The eurozone ministers, in Brussels for a monthly meeting, welcomed the adoption of the new measures, which were also a condition for unlocking 10 billion euros to recapitalise Greece's top banks.
"This is an important step towards addressing the main challenges that the Greek economy is facing and towards restoring it to a sustainable path," the ministers said in a joint statement after the talks.
There now remains one billion euros in order for Athens to complete its frist review from the bailout, which is to last three years.
Once this is achieved, extremely sensitive talks on reducing the overall size of Greece's huge public debt pile can begin, with opposition from rescue-fatigued governments like Germany running high.
After storming to power at the beginning of the year on a programme to free Greece from the restrictions of bailout programmes, Tsipras in July accepted the rescue deal with strict conditions including further cutbacks in public spending. — AFP