Greece’s government has said the country is “turning a page” after eurozone member states reached an agreement on the final elements of a plan to make its massive debt pile more manageable, ending an eight-year bailout programme.
“I have to say the Greek government is happy with this deal,” the finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, said on Friday. “But at the same time, this government will not forget what the Greek people went through in the past eight years.”
The government spokesman, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, hailed “a historic decision” that meant “the Greek people can smile again”. Financial markets rallied, with the country’s benchmark 10-year bond easing 0.2 points and the main stock index up 1.6%.
The plan allows Greece to extend and defer repayments on part of its debt for another 10 years and gives Athens another €15bn (£13.2bn) in new credit. Tsakalotos said it marked “the end of the Greek crisis … I think Greece is turning a page.”
He added that the government “has to make sure the Greek people quickly see concrete results … They need to feel the change in their own pockets.”
The prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, told a meeting of MPs: “Greece is once again becoming a normal country, regaining its political and financial independence.”
For the first time since he took office in January 2015, Tsipras donned a tie – fulfilling a promise made soon after he was election that he would only wear one when Greece had settled its debt problems.
But the main opposition party New Democracy reacted to the deal with scepticism, saying it left much to be desired. Asked whether he thought the €22bn (£19bn) buffer Greece had been given would suffice, the party’s Kostis Hatzidakis said it reflected the lack of faith international creditors had in Athens’ ability to successfully return to capital markets.
With Greece subject to enhanced surveillance for the next decade, reaction on the ground was similarly muted, with most saying they did not think the deal would make any noticeable difference to their lives.