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Greek PM calls referendum on bailout for July 5

27 june 2015, 15:35
0
In a picture of a television of a national TV grab shows Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras during his televised address to the Greek nation from Athens. ©AFP
In a picture of a television of a national TV grab shows Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras during his televised address to the Greek nation from Athens. ©AFP

Greece will hold a referendum on July 5 on the outcome of negotiations with its international creditors taking place in Brussels on Saturday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said, AFP reports.

"The people must decide free of any blackmail... the referendum will take place on July 5," Tsipras said in a televised address to the nation at 1:00am local time (2200 GMT).

Tsipras spoke ahead of a critical meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels on Saturday, amid heightened anxiety over a possible Greek default next Tuesday that could potentially spark its exit from the eurozone.

Earlier on Friday, Greece rejected its international creditors' offer of a five-month, 12-billion-euro ($13.4-billion) extension of its bailout programme, arguing it was unacceptable.

"For the last six months, the Greek government has led the fight ... to find a viable agreement that respects democracy," Tsipras said.

"We were asked to implement austerity measures ... allowing the deregulation of the labour market, pension cuts, and an increase in VAT on food products, targeting the humiliation of an entire people," the premier said.

"This is a historic responsibility that now appears for us to decide the future of the country ... in the coming days we will have to take decisions upon which future generations will depend."

Tsipras, speaking from the Prime Minister's official residence in Athens, spoke for about five minutes directly to camera.

"Democracy deserved a boost in euro-related matters," Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis tweeted following the referendum declaration. "We just delivered it. Let the people decide."

The creditors -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- insist Greece must seal a deal this weekend to avoid an IMF default early next week.

However the Greek government argued the reforms demanded alongside the bailout extension would be recessionary and the funding insufficient.

In response to the referendum announcement, a eurozone official in Brussels told AFP that the Eurogroup would still go ahead on Saturday.

Questioned if the eurozone ministers would discuss the current creditors' proposal, or a so-called plan B, the official replied: "That we will see. A number of countries want to debate plan B."

He gave no further details.

Varoufakis said earlier Greece had a "duty" to reach agreement with its international creditors on Saturday.


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