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Timeline: Greece's debt crisis

(Reuters) - Three people died in a fire set by Greek protesters in central Athens on Wednesday during a protest march against government austerity measures, the fire brigade said.

Here is a timeline of economic events in Greece in 2010.

January 2010 - Greece unveils stability programme on January 14, saying it will aim to cut its budget gap to 2.8 percent of GDP in 2012 from 12.7 percent in 2009.

February 2010 - Prime Minister George Papandreou says on February 2 the government will extend public sector wage freeze to those making below 2,000 euros a month for 2010, excluding seniority pay hikes.

-- February 3 - The EU Commission says it backs Greece’s plan to reduce budget deficit to below 3 percent of GDP by 2012 and urges Greece to cut overall wage bill.

-- Greece must refinance 54 billion euros in debt in 2010, with crunch in Q2 as more than 20 billion euros becomes due. A 5-year bond issue in January is five times oversubscribed but government has to pay hefty premium.

-- A one-day general strike on February 24 against austerity measures cripples Greece’s transport and public services.

-- An EU mission to Athens with IMF experts delivers grim assessment of nation’s economy on February 25.

March 2010 - EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn asks Greece to announce further measures to tackle budget crisis.

-- March 5 - New package of public sector pay cuts and tax increases is passed by government to save an extra 4.8 billion euros. Measures include raising VAT by 2 percentage points to 21 percent, cutting public sector salary bonuses by 30 percent, increases in tax on fuel, tobacco and alcohol, and freezing state-funded pensions in 2010.

-- March 11 - Public and private sector workers strike.

-- Euro zone leaders agree to create joint financial safety net, with IMF, to help Greece and to try to restore confidence in euro. Under the accord, Athens will receive coordinated bilateral loans from other countries that use euro and money from the IMF, but only if all states agree to bailout.

April 2010 - On April 11, Euro zone finance ministers approve giant 30-billion-euro ($40 billion) emergency aid mechanism for Greece but stress that Athens has not yet asked for plan to be activated.

-- April 15 - Parliament adopts tax reform bill, backing government moves to tackle tax evasion and shift fiscal burden to higher-income earners.

-- April 22 - Moody’s Investors Service downgrades Greece’s sovereign rating by one notch to A3, placing it four notches above speculative, or “junk” status.

-- Greece posts budget deficit of 32.34 billion euros or 13.6 percent of GDP in 2009, not the 12.7 percent it had reported earlier, Eurostat says.

-- April 23 - Prime Minister George Papandreou asks for activation of an EU/IMF aid package aimed at pulling the euro zone member out of a debt crisis.

-- April 25 - Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou says bailout talks with IMF and European partners in Washington go well.

-- April 26 - Striking protesters at Greece’s largest ports block hundreds of tourists from returning to their ship.

-- April 27 - Standard & Poor’s downgrades credit rating of Greece to junk status.

-- April 28 - Bank stocks jump as much as 6.2 percent after securities regulator says it has banned short-selling in Greek shares on the Athens bourse until June 28.

-- May 1 - Greek protesters march through Athens to protest against austerity measures they say can only hurt the poor.

-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will welcome contribution from Germany’s private sector to support Greek rescue package.

-- May 2 - Prime Minister Papandreou says Greece has sealed deal with EU and IMF opening door to multi-billion euro bailout and extra budget cuts of 30 billion euros ($40 billion) over three years, on top of measures already agreed.

-- The aid package amounts to 110 billion euros ($146.5 billion) over three years and represents first rescue of member of the 16-nation euro zone and by far largest bailout for a country to date.

-- May 4 - Public sector workers stage nationwide strikes in test of government’s ability to enact new austerity measures.

-- Papandreou submits the austerity bill to parliament that envisages 30 billion euros in new savings through deep cuts.

-- May 5 - Three people die in a fire as protesters clash with police and thousands of strikers march against austerity plans. Public and private sector workers stage their third joint strike in 2010. They have grounded flights, shut shops and brought public transport to a standstill.

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