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Troubled euro zone states emerge from crippling crisis

BRUSSELS: Bailed-out Greece has made a strong return to the bond markets after a four-year hiatus, raising 3.0 billion euros and sending a clear sign that the eurozone is putting its crippling debt crisis behind it.
Here is a run-down of the situation in eurozone states which came under pressure during the crisis over their public finances.

GREECE
Athens, which obtained international aid worth 240 billion euros, hopes to exit the massive rescue program in 2016.
It expects a return to growth this year after six years of recession. However, its public debt remains stubbornly high, reaching 177 percent of output in 2013.
Thursday’s successful medium-term bond issue was highly symbolic as it is Greece’s first call for private investors since the beginning of the debt crisis in 2010.

IRELAND
Ireland became the first bailed-out eurozone state to exit its international rescue package worth 85 billion euros in mid-December 2013.
It was the second eurozone state to obtain aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in November 2010, after a property market crash and banking crisis brought its economy to near collapse.
In January, it successfully raised funds from the markets in its first bond issue since the end of the rescue package. However, its economy shrank 0.3 percent in 2013, and 2.3 percent in the last three months of the year.
SPAIN
Hit by a property crash in 2008 which plunged the economy into a five-year, double-dip recession that destroyed millions of jobs, Spain sought aid worth 40 billion euros to refinance its banks.
The rescue program ended in December 2013 and Madrid has not sought any further aid. Spain has since been able to raise funds from the markets, and expects its economy to grow by 1.0 percent in 2014. However, its unemployment rate remains at a staggering 26.03 percent.

PORTUGAL
Lisbon was forced to obtain international aid worth 78 billion euros in May 2011, after decades of ballooning wages and state spending led to a massive build-up of public debt.
It expects to exit the rescue program on May 17, after having successfully raised funds from the markets in January and February. The Portuguese economy is expected to grow 1.2 percent this year, after a recession of 1.4 percent in 2013.

CYPRUS
Cyprus is still in the midst of its 10-billion-euro bailout program, which was granted in 2013 when its economy was on the brink of collapse. The rescue scheme runs to March 2016.
The island has been doggedly carrying out the reforms demanded by creditors in exchange for the aid funds, but the austerity has brought on a deep recession. Cyprus’s economy is expected to shrink 4.8 percent in 2014, after a decline of 6 percent in 2013.