[JURIST] Greece’s Eurozone creditors agreed on Saturday to unblock suspended debt-relief measures after Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras [official website] assured them that a Christmas gift he offered pensioners would be a “one-off.” Last week Greece raised concerns [WSJ] with its creditors when it paid out a pre-Christmas bonus to its low-income pensioners and lowered VAT on some of its Aegean islands without first informing creditors. The low-income pensioners survive on €800 or less per month and residents of the Aegean isles have borne the brunt of refugee influx [JURIST report]. The European Stability Mechanism, the Eurozone’s financing arm, reacted [Guardian] to the pre-Christmas measures by immediately freezing short-term relief measures designed to decrease Greece’s debt and which had only been agreed to a week prior. Eurozone finance ministers unblocked [Reuters] the debt relief measures after Greece reassured them that it would honor bailout commitments.
The debt crisis [BBC timeline] in Greece began in 2009 with a downgrade of a credit rating, and in the following years has led Greece to borrow hundreds of billions of euros. In May the Greek Parliament approved [JURIST report] the last round of austerity measures necessary to secure European bailout funds. The nation approved [JURIST report] a bill in February that provides health insurance and municipality jobs to poor Greek citizens affected by the country’s recent austerity measures. In October 2015 Greek lawmakers approved [JURIST report] a bill containing new austerity measures and economic overhauls under its new bailout program. In April of last year the European Central Bank expressed concerns [JURIST report] about Greece’s draft law that prohibits the government from foreclosing on primary residences where borrowers can prove total wealth requirements as ripe for unscrupulous debtors to engage in strategic defaults without repercussions.