After months of negotiations with its European neighbors, Greece has secured final approval of a new $170 billion bailout, the country's second rescue package in two years.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday the first installment of more than $51 billion would be sent to the Athens government in several segments. The bailout, along with the agreement by Greece's private creditors to eliminate $142 billion in debt the country owes them, is intended to keep it from defaulting on its financial obligations and fund the government through 2014.
Juncker described the bailout as "a unique opportunity for Greece that should not be missed," and said the country must keep a "strong commitment" to carry out the austerity measures it has adopted to cut the budget deficits it has routinely incurred.
The first segment of funding is expected to be used to recapitalize Greek banks that wrote down the debt the government owed them, as well as cover government funding needs through the end of June.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Rome on Tuesday, hailed the outcome of the Greek debt negotiations, but said that all 17 countries in the euro currency bloc must now work toward boosting their own economic fortunes.
"The first thing is that we showed clearly that we all stand for the stability of the euro currency and the way we coped with the Greece crisis is proof of that," she said. "The second thing is that every member has to work in their own country to improve its economic strength, in order to make confidence come back."
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.