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EU says indebted Greece can finally "stand on its own feet"

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By Daniel Bellamy  with Reuters
EU says indebted Greece can finally "stand on its own feet"

"Greece is now able to stand on its own two feet" - that's the message from the EU's finance ministers after they met in Luxembourg on Friday.

They agreed a package of measures to reassure partners and investors that Greece's debt is economically viable.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said it marked a definitive turn of the crisis-hit country away from a relentless cycle of austerity.

"We had an historic agreement upon which Greek debt is rendered viable," Tsipras told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during a meeting.

Euro zone finance ministers earlier on Friday offered Greece, which has received three bailouts since 2010, a 10-year deferral and maturities extension on a large part of past loans as well as 15 billion euros in new credit to ensure Athens can stand on its own feet after it exits its third bailout in August.

"This is a new page for the country. It doesn't mean we should abandon the prudent path of fiscal balance and structural reforms... but it does mean we can abandon the thorny path of memorandums and extreme austerity," Tsipras said.

Greeks have seen their economy shrink by a quarter, unemployment spike and salaries and pensions slashed by about 40 percent since first falling into crisis in 2010. The country has required three international bailouts.