Third bailout for Greece realistic: Eurogroup head

BRUSSELS Thu Sep 5, 2013 3:48am EDT

Demonstrators stand during a protest in front of the parliament in Athens July 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Demonstrators stand during a protest in front of the parliament in Athens July 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece's financial troubles will not end in 2014 and it is therefore realistic to expect the debt-laden country will need additional money from the euro zone before it can return to markets, the head of euro zone finance ministers said.

International lenders estimate that Greece will need around 10-11 billion euros ($13.1-14.4 billion) from the second half of 2014 to keep it going next year and in 2015.

But several euro zone governments are reluctant to extend any further loans because of negative public opinion, with voters tired of bailing out other countries after three years of the sovereign debt crisis.

"As far as the potential need for a third program for Greece is concerned, it's clear that despite recent progress, Greece's troubles will not have been completely resolved by 2014," Jeroen Dijsselbloem told the European Parliament.

"It is realistic to assume that additional support will be needed beyond the program. In this context, the Eurogroup has indicated clearly that it is committed to providing adequate support to Greece during the current program and beyond until it has regained market access," he said.

Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch finance minister, said that separately, once verified Greek public finance data for 2013 is available in April 2014, the euro zone may consider some further form of debt relief for Athens.

"The Eurogroup agreed last year to consider additional measures if necessary, such as further reductions of the interest rates on Greek loan facilities... if Greece were to meet precise conditions," Dijsselbloem said.

"We will not be any position to assess whether these conditions have been fully met until April next year," he said.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott and Jan Strupczewski; editing by Charlie Dunmore)

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