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Is Greece Out of the Woods? Key Dates from a Decade of Crisis

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (R) with EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici (center) and German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

It has been a long and painful road for Greece and its people during a decade of economic meltdown and austerity.
As analysts pick over Thursday’s deal announced at a Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg which purports to lay down Greece’s path out of its bailout in August, we look back at the key dates which marked Greece’s financial collapse.

  • In 2009 international credit ratings agencies downgrade Greek debt after Athens reveals the public deficit is at 12.7 percent of GDP, breaking a three-percent threshold set by the eurozone’s Stability and Growth Pact.
  • In April 2010, the Greek government headed by George Papandreou formally requests international help. This follows two austerity packages which see state employees’ salaries frozen, with cuts in bonuses and overtime. A second set of measures hike VAT to 21 percent and increases taxes on fuel, cigarettes, and alcohol.
    Former Greek premier George Papandreou (file photo)
  • In May 2010, Greece borrows €110 billion ($128 billion) from the EU and IMF amid promises to implement more austerity measures. Street protests turn violent in the following days; three people are killed when a bank is firebombed in central Athens.
  • April 2010: Standard & Poor’s cuts Greece’s credit rating to junk bond status.
  • 6 November 2011: Despite winning a confidence vote, Greek premier George Papandreou resigns. His departure is preceded by months of disorder as frustrated Greeks protest in unprecedented numbers over more austerity measures. He is succeeded by Lucas Papademos as head of a coalition government. Credit ratings agencies repeatedly downgrade Greece’s ratings throughout the year.
  • In December 2011, financial problems see private TV channel Alter go off the air.
  • February 2012: A second bailout package foresees Greek bailout loans rising to €246 billion by 2016, which is 135 percent of the country’s GDP in 2013.
  • 6 May 2012 – New Democracy is returned as the largest party a new general election, but no one wins a majority in parliament. A second election on June 7 sees a coalition headed by New Democracy install Antonis Samaras as prime minister.
  • April-June 2013: A bill passed by parliament aims to cut 15,000 state jobs by the end of 2014. On June 11, lawmakers shut down the ERT public broadcaster.
  • December 2014: Stavros Dimas, the government’s candidate for president fails to win the backing of lawmakers, leading to the collapse of the government.
    SYRIZA’s Alexis Tsipras pictured with defence minister Panos Kammenos
  • 25 January 2015: The left-wing SYRIZA party headed by Alexis Tsipras experiences a historic win and goes into government propped up by the right-wing Independent Greeks. Greek GDP has fallen by a quarter in five years and unemployment is at 25 percent.
  • June-July 2015: Tsipras announces a referendum on a bailout agreement, to be held on 5 July. Days later, Greece misses a €1.5-billion debt payment. Over 61 percent of Greeks eventually reject proposed measures by international creditors and prominent Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigns. In June, banks close and capital controls are introduced. Despite voters rejecting the bailout terms, the Greek government later settles for measures which contain harsher terms.
  • August 2015: 222 Greek lawmakers approve a third bailout package, with 64 (including 32 SYRIZA lawmakers) voting against. Tsipras steps down and calls new elections for Sept. 20. The Greek Stock Exchange reopens after being closed since June but sees bank stocks lose an average of 30 percent in a day.
  • September 2015: SYRIZA returns to power in a coalition, beating nearest rivals New Democracy.
  • May 2016: Greek lawmakers pass more austerity measures worth €5.4 billion.
  • In 2017, it is confirmed that Greece will face strict supervision as it tries to repay its loans. In May, Greek lawmakers pass the Medium-term Fiscal Strategy Framework (MTSF).
  • In early 2018, after months of talks, Greek lawmakers also pass a 400-article, 1,300-page omnibus bill for the country to complete a third review of its bailout program.
    Among many controversial measures there are plans to reduce family benefits, introduce a new process for foreclosures on overdue loans and make it harder for unions to call industrial action. Protest marches outside parliament end in violence between demonstrators and police.
  • 21 June 2018: Eurozone ministers agree debt relief and a big cash payout for Greece paving the way for its program exit in two months’ time. Under the agreed debt-relief plan, maturities on €96.6 billion of loans Greece has received from its second bailout will be pushed out by 10 years. The extension will be accompanied by a 10-year grace period in interest and amortization payments on the same loans.
    The eurozone creditors also agreed to disburse €15 billion euros to ease the country’s exit from its program. This would leave Greece with a hefty €24 billion euro safety cushion.

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