Venizelos says Eurogroup deal better than expected

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos says the deal struck between Greece and its eurozone partners in Brussels early on Tuesday was better than Athens had expected.

Under the agreement, Greece will receive 130 billion euros at a lower interest rate than previously agreed and private sector bondholders will accept a slightly larger haircut than had been expected.

?Fortunately, we arrived at a positive conclusion, which was not easy or a given,? said Venizelos. ?Right up to the last few house, negotiations with our partners were intense.

?We achieved a better result than we had planned. We can now turn to our real targets, stop adding debt onto our existing debt, enter a normal cycle and regain our dignity.?

Venizelos said that Greece would have to adopt the so-called prior actions demanded by its lenders before the European Union leaders? summit at the end of the month.

He said the Cabinet is due to meet on Wednesday to agree a series of fiscal measures, tax reforms, pension adjustments, changes to the 2012 budget and structural reforms.

The finance minister said that the Cabinet would also give the green light for the debt restructuring, or PSI, to take place. Venizelos estimated that most of the process would be completed by the second week of March and the whole scheme would be wrapped up by the beginning of April.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Finance Ministry said it would pass legislation that would allow it to enforce losses on bondholders who will not take part in the PSI

“The Greek government will shortly submit to the Greek parliament a draft bill which, if passed, will introduce a collective action clause into eligible Greek-law governed bonds of the Hellenic Republic,» the ministry said.

Venizelos also made an appeal to Greeks to return their savings to their homeland to help the local econonomy.

The finance minister is expected to step down from his post in the next few days so he can compete for the PASOK leadership. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is expected to assume the role of finance minister.

Papademos said that elections would be called as soon as Parliament has approved the new loan agreement and the debt restructuring, or PSI, scheme.