Greece has turned the page to become “a normal” member of the single currency, European Union authorities in Brussels declared as the country finally exited its eight-year bailout programme.

Its three bailouts during the eurozone crisis totalled €288.7bn (£258bn) – the world’s biggest-ever financial rescue. During that time, as the crisis threatened to lead to the nation’s ejection from the single currency – “Grexit” – Greece has had four governments and endured one of the worst recessions in economic history.

“We have had eight very difficult years, often very painful years, where we have had three successive programmes. But now Greece can finally turn the page in a crisis that has lasted too long,” he told journalists. “The worst is over.”

Evoking pensioners, workers and families who had suffered their own personal crisis, he added that he was “conscious that all those people may not feel that their situation has yet improved much if at all. My message to them is therefore simple: Europe will continue to work with you and for you.”