Greece faces February 23 deadline on reform proposals

Top Greek officials face a Monday evening deadline to come up with proposed economic reforms in a deal with European leaders to continue a financial bailout for the economically troubled nation.

Under Friday’s deal, a $270 billion aid package will continue to help Greece if the reforms satisfy the nation’s lenders. The continuation of eurozone funding to Greece will avert possible bankruptcy and keep the euro currency in use in Greece.

“We won a battle, but not the war,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Saturday on national television, adding that “the difficulties — the real difficulties — lie ahead of us.”

News accounts said the Greek government was trying to come up with a list of actions, such as improving tax collection and cutting corruption, that will improve the economy. Officials are trying to ease austerity measures that have angered Greek voters while managing to make enough economic changes to reassure lenders.

The prime minister was meeting with his Cabinet Saturday to review proposals.

Athens had wanted to end its supervision by the European “troika” — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and European Commission — but the three entities will continue to monitor the country’s compliance with austerity measures and economic reforms.

Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza party have widely disparaged the three organizations for what they see as hostile actions. Tsipras and his ministers, who won national elections and took power last month, promised to end the bailout program and break off cooperation with inspectors from the financial institutions overseeing the plan.

The $270 billion bailout arrangement was due to expire next week, with unknown but potentially catastrophic economic consequences.As the deadline approached, fearful depositors began withdrawing their money from banks — the equivalent of $1 billion on Friday alone, according to an unnamed senior banker quoted by the Reuters news agency.

The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who had a key role in Friday’s lengthy negotiations, said both sides could now “turn a page” in their relations. He told reporters that “we are beginning to be the co-authors of our own destiny.”


(Photo: Pedro Moura Pinheiro/