New aid gives Greece summer respite before showdown

Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:42am EDT
 
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By Deepa Babington

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has scraped through its biggest political and financial challenge this year by securing a tranche of aid from international lenders but the reprieve may only be temporary.

Crunch time for Athens will come at the end of September when EU and IMF inspectors are expected to return to discuss how to plug a budget gap for 2015 and 2016, raising the specter of more austerity cuts that may spark a new political crisis.

Even if it survives that, Greece will still need more debt relief from the euro zone before it can get back on its feet.

On Monday the lenders approved 6.8 billion euros from an emergency bailout put together in 2012 to keep the economy afloat and prevent a deepening of the regional debt crisis.

The money spares Greece from defaulting on its debt in August and tides it over until after elections in Germany in September.

But Greece will only get the full amount if the coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras speeds up reforms to get them back on the agreed schedule.

"It's certainly going to get tougher both economically and politically," said Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels.

"They're kicking the issue a couple of months into the future ... we're going to continue with this charade between the troika and the government where everyone knows what's going on - that it's entirely unrealistic for Greece to live up to its expectations, both in the short and long term."   Continued...

 
Athens' municipal employees take part in a protest outside the town hall of Athens July 10, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis