A new tranche of bailout aid will quickly be
disbursed by Greece's creditors, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras
said Friday, but Brussels indicated that Athens should not expect a
decision during a eurozone finance ministers meeting next week.
The chairman of Eurogroup panel of finance ministers nevertheless expressed optimism that action would soon be taken, describing a new round of austerity measures approved by the Greek parliament earlier this week as "evidence of courage."
"(They) are very impressive and basically conform to our expectations," Jean-Claude Juncker, who also serves as Luxembourg's prime minister, told dpa Friday.
"Greece is working on fulfilling its duties and I have no doubt that the other 16 eurozone governments will in turn rapidly comply with their commitments to Greece," he added.
But Juncker also lamented that a report by the country's so-called troika of international creditors - a prerequisite for the ministers to make a decision - still has not been finalized. He promised "speedy" action once "all elements" for a decision are provided.
Stournaras had earlier told reporters after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that "there is no reason to worry."
"The tranche will be released," he said.
But a top official in Brussels said eurozone finance ministers will likely not decide on Monday whether Greece should get the next installment.
While ministers are aware that Greece faces some 5 billion euros of maturing treasury bills on November 16, more time is needed to get the approval of EU national parliaments, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Agreements on the long-term sustainability of Greek debt and on future financing also need to be reached before the aid can flow.
But "there will be no (Greek) default on November 16," the official insisted.
International creditors want Athens to slash its debt to 120 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. But data released by the EU this week showed that Greek debt is on track to reach almost 190 per cent of GDP by 2014.
Greek lawmakers on Thursday began debating next year's budget, hours after parliament passed the new round of austerity measures, another precondition for the country to receive its next round of international aid.
The 31.5-billion-euro (40-billion-dollar) installment hinges on the approval of the 2013 budget, which is scheduled for a vote on Sunday.
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