Key dates in Greece's debt crisis

Athens (AFP) –


After nearly a decade of stringent and hugely unpopular austerity measures to stabilise its economy, Greece on Monday exits the EU-IMF bailout programmes agreed to prevent it from crashing out of the eurozone.

Here are some key dates in a debt crisis which brought the country to its knees and nearly sank the euro single currency project.

- Financial meltdown -

- October 2009: The Greek government admits the public deficit, at 12.7 percent of total economic output, is twice as big as previously thought. The figure is later revised to 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) -- compared with the European Union's ceiling of just three percent.

- December: Credit ratings agencies Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's downgrade Greece, stoking concerns the country cannot service its debt.

- Bailouts and austerity -

- April 2010: Athens appeals for help.

- May: Greece receives a bailout as the European Union and International Monetary Fund agree to a 110-billion-euro package of loans in exchange for sweeping austerity measures including massive cuts in public spending and stinging tax increases. Some 73 billion is disbursed.

- October 2011: The eurozone prepares a second loan package worth 130 billion euros, with some of the money from the first rescue rolled in.

After tortured eurozone negotiations, private sector creditors at the same time finally agree to write off more than 100 billion euros, about half the money owed to them, but this still leaves Greece saddled with a mountain of debt.

- Political crisis -

- May 2012: The two main political parties that accepted the austerity measures in return for the bailout suffer losses in an early election. A fresh vote is held.

- June: The two pro-bailout parties form the core of a new government, with a conservative prime minister put in charge.

- Moment of respite -

- April 2014: Greece returns to sovereign debt markets, a key sign of progress.

- January 2015: The Syriza party of left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras wins a snap election, largely on his opposition to the austerity measures which he says are counter-productive and pushing the economy deeper into the mire.

In five years, the Greek economy has shrunk 25 percent, salaries have withered and a quarter of the workforce is unemployed.

- February 2015: Greece's creditors agree to extend emergency loans until the end of June, giving Tsipras some limited breathing room. Athens vows reforms in exchange for the last 7.2 billion euros in rescue funds.

- Taking on creditors -

- June 2015: Tsipras calls a referendum on the latest bailout proposals. Three days later, Greece's bailout officially expires and Athens misses a 1.5-billion-euro debt payment. The country and the eurozone stand on the precipice.

- July: Greek referendum voters reject the creditors' proposals. The next day, the country's firebrand finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, steps down.

- A bitter pill -

- July 2015: Greece and its creditors agree preliminary terms of the nation's third bailout deal, in return for harsher reforms than those rejected in the referendum.

Tsipras names a new cabinet that excludes hardliners opposed to the bailout terms.

- August: Parliament approves the third bailout programme of about 86 billion euros.

- Second chance for Tsipras -

- August 2015: Tsipras' party suffers defections from hardline leftists and he calls a new election. Athens receives the first tranche of the new bailout cash, allowing it to repay a 3.4-billion-euro debt to the European Central Bank on time.

- September: Syriza wins a convincing election victory and forms a coalition that will push through the reforms laid down in the bailout programme.

- Free at last? -

- December 2016: Eurozone finance ministers endorse short-term debt relief measures for Greece. The IMF presses for some of the debt to be written off completely to allow the economy to recover.

- January 2018: Head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, Mario Centeno, announces the start of "technical work" on the debt-relief measures.

- April 2018: Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos admits the country will remain under "enhanced surveillance" once its bailout programme expires.

- June 2018: Eurozone finance ministers reach a deal setting the terms of Greece's departure from the bailout, with the exit date set for August 20.