Both Greece and its lenders said on Tuesday they were optimistic they could broker a deal within days on a multi-billion euro bailout, striking a surprisingly upbeat tone on a process previously fraught with bitterness. A bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($94.5 billion) must be settled by Aug. 20 — or a second bridge loan agreed — if Greece is to pay off debt of 3.5 billion euros to the European Central Bank that matures on that day.
Wrapping up a day of talks in Athens, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said negotiations were going better than expected. In Brussels, a Commission official said they were ‘encouraged’ by progress. “We are moving in the right direction and intense work is continuing,” Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told Reuters.
It will be the indebted nation’s third bailout since 2010, designed to stave off bankruptcy and keep the country from toppling out of the euro zone. Negotiations have been tortuous in the past, bogged down in minutiae of reforms ranging from pensions to shop opening hours. Over much of this year they were also peppered with angry outbursts about responsibility, sovereignty and even blackmail.