24th Apr 2019

Tsipras promises bailout deal to worried voters

  • 'We’re not playing a game', the Greek PM said on TV (Photo:

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras appeared upbeat and combative on Thursday (2 July), while politicians lined up to warn against the consequences of Sunday's referendum amid rumours of further economic restrictions.

"People should not worry because we will have a deal 48 hours after the referendum," Tsipras said in an interview with ANT1 TV channel Thursday evening.

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"Either with an agreement which will not be sustainable if people vote Yes; or, if people vote No, on Monday I will be in Brussels to sign a deal."

Earlier Thursday, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem told the Dutch Parliament in case of a No vote, it would be "very doubtful if there is a basis for Greece in the eurozone".

"It’s important to get a sustainable solution for those people in the queues at ATMs. We’re not playing a game but we want this country to breath," Tsipras also said, as Greeks continued all to withdraw cash from the banks.

On Friday morning, Greek TV was showing live the queues at ATMs.

Supply shortage

The official daily ceiling for withdrawals is €60 but many ATMs only give €50 euro notes while others are getting out of cash available.

The President of the hellenic Chamber of Commerce said the banks' cash reserves were down to €500 million and that banks would not be able to open on Tuesday after the current bank holiday decided by the government.

Athens on Thursday was rustling with rumours that more drastic control would be imposed after the referendum, with an even lower ceiling.

Another rumor was that with some of the main banks on the edge of collapse, a Cyprus-style bail-in was under preparation, with a levy on deposits starting at €5,000 or even €2,000.

These rumours are unverified but illustrate a sentiment that whatever the result of the referendum, Greece's situation will only get worse.

The Kathimerini daily reported that some Greek islands are already running short of food and medicines because they cannot pay their suppliers.

Ship liaisons with the islands could also be affected by a shortage of petrol.

Many usual transactions like paying water and electricity bills and small business salaries are now impossible because they are done moving cash through the banks.

And while credit cards payment is a way of not using bank notes, many shops and petrol stations accept only cash payments.

National security

In his TV interview, Tsipras stressed that the Greek people [would not] give in to fear-mongering" and that they would "not accept Mr. Schaeuble's [the German Finance minister] view that the euro stand for poverty, austerity and social catastrophe".

But while the No campaign is the most visible in Athens, all major Greek politicians warned against the consequences of a rejection of Greece's creditors.

Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos said while meeting the head of the hellenic Bank Association on Thursday that Greece's course in the EU and the eurozone is "a national one-way road" for reasons of national security.

Costas Karamanlis, who was prime minister in the years preceding the revelations of Greece's financial catastrophic situation in 2009, said in a televised message that "staying within the European family is imperative not only on economic and social grounds … it is, foremost, imperative on national [security] grounds."

The center-left mayor of Athens George Kaminis, one of the leading figures of the Yes campaign, told reporters that "as a result of this referendum, our country risks being completely isolated within the European Union and facing even worse hardships and threats."

On Wednesday night, while the communist party filled Syntagma square with red flags and calls to vote No and and leave the EU, former prime minister George Papandreou held a meeting on a square in front of Athens City Hall.

"Being outside of Europe would be a tragic disaster," said Papandreou, who signed the first bailout memorandum with the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in 2010.

"The EU did not accept some of our proposals but if you are in the Union you can fight for your right, if you are out you cannot," he said to about 2,000 supporters.

Supreme court

The campaign will intensify on Friday, with two major meetings being held at the same time in the evening.

Supporters for the Yes will gather in the ancient Panathenaic Stadium while Tsipras will speak to his supporters on Syntagma Square in front of the parliament.

Two polls Friday morning out the Yes and No neck to neck.

A poll published in To Ethnos newspaper, put the Yes vote ahead, at 44.8% against 43.4%, with 11.8% of undecided voters.

According to another poll conducted for Bloomberg News, the No was leading with 43% ahead of the Yes at 42.5percent.

A new twist in the snap referendum could happen Friday, if the Greek Supreme Court canceled the vote.

The judges will decide on an legal objection raised by a lawyer and an engineer claiming that the referendum is unconstitutional because it concerns fiscal matters and was announced just a week before the vote.


Athens on edge as referendum looms

Three days before the referendum, closed banks, frequent demos, and streams of leaflets are a reminder that the future of Greece is at stake.

IMF: Greece needs debt write-off and €50bn

Greece needs 30 percent of its debt to be written off and a bailout package worth €51.9 billion over the next three years to stay afloat, the IMF has said.

Bulgarian lev makes inroads in Greece

Hotels and restaurants in northern Greece are accepting payments in Bulgarian levs, then converting them to euros in Bulgaria.

'It's Greeks against Greeks'

It was a tale of two Greeces on Friday night, as tens of thousands took to the streets of Athens for the last evening of campaigning.

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