Mar 18 - Greece has struck a long-awaited deal with its creditors to unlock the next instalment of its rescue loan after seven months of tough negotiations. As Sonia Legg reports the deal comes as a German court confirms the legality of the euro zone bailout scheme.
It's taken seven long months but Greece has finally struck a deal with its creditors. It will unlock the next instalment of aid, says Greece's Finance Minister. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) GREEK FINANCE MINISTER YANNIS STOURNARAS SAYING "This inspection, this review, was very difficult, the most difficult until now. I believe that during these months we succeeded in improving the economy a great deal." There were numerous sticking points - including reforms to make the economy more competitive. A demand from the lenders for mass layoffs didn't help neither did the capital shortfall faced by Greek banks. Athens was determined to avoid further pain to Greek citizens. And part of the new agreement includes 500 million euros for the poor. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER ANTONIS SAMARAS SAYING "The lengthy negotiations with the troika have been completed with success. "When others doubted the achievements of the economy or even tried to dispell them, this government, united, achieved its mission: to get the country out of the crisis." Time was running out - 9.3 billion euros of bonds expire in May. It will be the biggest refinancing hurdle Greece will face in the next 30 years. The legality of the euro zone's bailout fund has also been confirmed. A court ruled the 700 billion euro European Stability Mechanism doesn't violate Germany's consitutional rights. It was another sign, says BGC's Mike Ingram, that the euro zone crisis is resolving itself - slowly. SOUNDBITE (English) MIKE INGRAM, MARKET COMMENTATOR, BGC PARTNERS, SAYING: "Germany is rather dragging its feet in terms of the single resolution and ultimately we don't have the bank deposit back stop that will be accumulated over a number of years but yes it is clearly a step in the right direction." Greece's economy is taking tiny steps in the right direction too. It's expecting to post a primary surplus although there's no date yet for a return to the markets.