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Finance minister sends message of conciliation with lenders

Greece is ready for a "new relationship" with international creditors in 2015, according to finance minister Gikas Hardouvelis, signalling a change of course from plans that shook markets.

Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis described the new relationship as an "adjustment period, maybe six months, maybe one year, until we completely exit the memorandum" that binds the Greek government to undertake certain fiscal policies in exchange for loans needed to keep the government solvent.

"The fact that our creditors also talk about a new relationship signifies that they are open to dialogue, that there is no disagreement about the possibility of a prudent exit," by Greece from its international bailout programme, he said in a television interview, on Monday.

Greece is set to end the EU-side of its 240 billion euro rescue plan at the end of the year. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has made it clear he would like to see the country free itself from all bailout obligations as soon as possible.

The IMF portion of the Greek bailout end in 2016 and many EU member states, wary of an unsupervised Athens, would like Brussels to stay linked to that programme.

The thought of Greece moving alone without international support, or supervision panicked the markets, sending stock prices in Athens plummeting and Greek interest rates climbing to alarmingly high levels.

However, the politically unpalatable bailout conditions have weakened the coalition government. This has made the PM to blurt out that he would be making a clean exit from the bailout program, like Ireland and Portugal.

The comments made by the finance minister came after those by a senior European official on Monday that signalled that the EU was also looking for a compromise.

"It seems that a completely clean exit is highly unlikely and we'll have to explore other options," a senior European official said ahead of a Thursday meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

The official did not clarify what form the aid could take but given market volatility in recent weeks, "a structured, contractual relationship between euro area institutions and Greece makes sense."

Samaras has previously signalled Greece would consider a precautionary credit line from the eurozone's ESM bailout fund.