Alkis Konstantinidis | Reuters
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on during a parliamentary session before a budget vote in Athens, Greece, December 10, 2016.
Greece wants nothing more than to avoid another bailout — which means it needs debt relief. And so far, that’s the sticking point.
“There is now light at the end of the tunnel,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said hopefully in June. After months of wrangling, the European Union and International Monetary Fund had just agreed to release more rescue funds to the perennially troubled nation, bringing the total from its third bailout alone to 40.2 billion euros ($47.75 billion).
Euro zone finance ministers took very light steps toward debt relief at that time — they said they were willing to keep deferring interest on financial assistance Greece had already received — but those measures fell short of the relief Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was pressing for.
The current bailout program is set to end in September of next year. Greece has been wracked by perennial financial crises since 2010, and it even appeared at risk of leaving the euro zone altogether in 2015.