Key dates in Greece debt countdown


Brussels (AFP) – Greece’s new anti-austerity government is seeking a renegotiation of its hated 240-billion-euro ($270-billion) bailout, but time is running out for both Athens and its international creditors to reach a deal.

Here are the key dates in the coming weeks and months as Greece tries to avoid a default and possible exit from the euro, with a major crunch point coming at the end of February when its bailout deal expires.

February 10:

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose radical left Syriza party won elections on January 25, faces a confidence vote in the Greek parliament, his first political hurdle since taking office. After that he must push through his choice for president.

Tsipras is expected to easily win the confidence vote, which comes two days after he set out his key policies in a major speech to parliament.

Tsipras told lawmakers he would not ask for an extension of the Greece’s bailout and would instead seek a bridge loan until June to win time for a new deal.

February 11:

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will take Greece’s debt proposals to an extraordinary meeting of the “Eurogroup” of 19 eurozone finance ministers in Brussels.

February 12:

While Greece is not officially on the agenda, which is focused on Ukraine and terrorism, Tsipras will have the chance for crucial meetings on the margins including with Europe’s most powerful leader, the pro-austerity German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

February 16:

The “Eurogroup” of eurozone finance ministers is due to hold a scheduled meeting in Brussels that will nevertheless be dominated by attempts to reach a deal on Greece, whether temporary or long term.

Any renegotiation of Greece’s massive debt obligations will take place at the Eurogroup, which is led by Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who was so far objected that Greece revisit its bailout or secure a new short-term loan.

Theoretically a deal would have to be done here as the eurozone’s 19 parliaments would all have to accept it before the end of the month.

February 28:

Greece’s bailout agreement with the eurozone expires.

In December, eurozone ministers agreed to extend the European portion of the EU-IMF rescue by two months from the end of 2014.

This gave Greece extra time to fulfill reform commitments made to the troika, the widely-loathed EU, IMF and ECB mission tasked with enforcing Greece’s international bailout.

Without the troika’s approval, Greece will not get the final 1.8 billion euro loan instalment from the eurozone, leaving it at risk of being unable to pay its creditors. Greece says it does not want a further extension and would rather start from scratch with a new deal.

July 20:

Greece faces a huge repayment to the ECB of 3.5 billion euros.

According to several analysts, Greece can survive without a backstop until this date, as long as the ECB keeps some level liquidity available to Greece’s banks, but afterwards it faces a default.

August 20:

Athens owes the ECB another 3.2 billion euros.

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