April 26, 2018 / 9:56 AM / 5 months ago

EU's Juncker: Greece does not need credit line, extra austerity

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece can exit its third financial bailout program without requesting a precautionary credit line, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomes European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Juncker, who was visiting Athens, also said that the achievements of Greece, which has implemented broad reforms in return for bailout funds, were “excellent”.

“We want to apply every effort to ensure that the exit of Greece from the bailout is a clean one. And that there will not be any precautionary line,” Juncker said in comments translated into Greek after meeting Tsipras.

“I have never been a fan of austerity,” he said.

Greece has received about 260 billion euros in bailout funds since 2010, when it required the first of what were to be three international bailouts. Its latest bailout, worth up to 86 billion euros, runs until August, and the country does not want a credit line because of the possible conditions attached.

Throwing off the formal control of the euro zone would be perceived as a key political achievement for the left-wing government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Tsipras, who was speaking during a joint press conference with Juncker, said Greece does not intend to backtrack on its reforms and is on track to meet its fiscal targets for 2018-20 after overshooting them in recent years.

He said Athens and its EU lenders are also close to agreeing on a framework to reduce the country’s huge debt pile.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Michele Kambas; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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