Germany, France confident of unlocking aid for Greece

Gabriel, a Social Democrat, said Greece has upheld its side of the bargain by passing the latest measures to meet bailout terms, meaning it's time for creditors to end "political blockades" and flesh out plans for possible debt relief envisaged in 2018.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is to meet his counterparts from the 19-country eurozone at a meeting in Brussels, where Greece will once again be top of the agenda.

The country is in the middle of its third global bailout, but its progress has been slow in light of various disagreements related to the reforms the Greek government has to impose in return for the rescue money.

Mannequins stands inside a shuttered shopwith signs that read "for rent" as a man walks in central Athens, on Monday, May 22, 2017. But Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble is sticking to his insistence that further-reaching debt relief is a matter for the future.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said his new administration will push for a Greek debt relief deal.

Meanwhile, Athens and the creditors are near to closing the second review of the bailout after the Greek parliament approved this week - amid widespread protests in the country - the reform package agreed in April, which includes pension cuts and tax hikes equivalent to 2 per cent of the Greek GDP. "That will be one of the hard issues", German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

Euro-area finance ministers committed last May to a set of potential measures to ease the repayment terms on Greek bailout loans after the end of the program in 2018, but the degree to which these measures will be implemented is still a subject of contention.

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Though Greece emerged from its economic depression in 2014 and its annual budget position has improved dramatically, the economy is back in recession, having shrunk for two straight quarters.

Belgian finance minister Johan Van Overtveldt cautioned against debt relief promises and noted Greece was already getting cheaper financing than even his own country thanks to the ultra-low borrowing costs of the euro zone bailout fund ESM.

Greece needs new credit to repay some €7.3bn euros worth of maturing loans in July.

Speaking at a regular government news conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission were not far apart in their assessment on Greece.

"I now wish that we, the partners of Greece, also take our responsibilities", he said.Moscovici said his optimism over a deal was partly linked to the fact Germany was now aware of the need to find a structural solution to Greece's problems.

A worker at the entrance of Athens' main fish market today.

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