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30/06 – EU leaders campaigning for a “Yes” vote in Greece

In a press conference yesterday garnering much media attention, EC President Juncker made an “emotional” declaration, as some sources such as ARD and Les Echos put it, saying that he felt betrayed by Greece’s current government, which would have benefitted from a financial aid of €35 billion, had it accepted the Eurogroup plan. Mr Juncker accused the Greek executive of showing the people a distorted image of the agreement proposed by creditors, and underlined that the proposal did not include pension cuts, as PM Tsipras claimed.

Mr Juncker is asking the Greeks to vote in favour of the plan of measures proposed by European leaders and for staying in the euro area, in the July 5 referendum. “If Greece says no, Greece says no to Europe”, said Mr Juncker. Commissioner Moscovici, for his part, wished in an interview with RTL ahead of Mr Juncker’s conference that Mr Tsipras would encourage Greeks to vote “Yes”, contrary to what he is currently doing. Partners of Mr Tsipras insist, Ethnos reports, that the Greek PM will vote “No” on Sunday.

In an interview with Ert1 TV, Greek PM Tsipras actually calls on the Greek people to vote “No” in the referendum. Although he will respect the choice of the Greek people, Mr Tsipras stresses that he will not be an all-weather Prime Minister, implying that he might resign if the Greek people vote “Yes”. All Greek media actually report that Mr Tsipras links the result of the referendum with his stay in power. Apart from Mr Moscovici – who told RTL yesterday that he believed that the Greek people must give their opinion on the reforms proposed, not on their country’s belonging to the EU – all European leaders, from Paris to Berlin and Madrid to Dublin, made it clear that the Greeks do not have to vote for or against an incomplete reform plan but for or against Greece remaining part of the euro area, sources such as the WSJE, the Financial Times and Les Echos note.

“Europe Warns Greeks of Risk Of ‘No’ Vote,” a WSJE headline reads. All European leaders, Libération adds, made it clear that rejecting the creditors’ proposals would have drastic consequences: “if Greece says no, Greece says no to Europe”, said EC President Juncker; “the question is whether the Greeks want to remain in the euro area,” stressed François Hollande; “if the euro fails, Europe will fail,” warned Angela Merkel. Greece’s EU partners have chosen to campaign for a “Yes” vote so as not to let Greek Prime Minister Tsipras decide the euro area’s fate by himself, Libération‘s Jean Quatremer writes.

In an interview with Libération, Greek Minister for Administrative Reform George Katrougalos gives Syriza’s version of why the negotiations with the creditors failed. He stresses that last Monday, Syriza’s proposals were described as a good basis for discussion, and then on Tuesday the creditors made proposals that Syriza had already refused and thought irrelevant. “It was clear to us that their strategy was not to discuss an agreement, but to spend the time we had left by using Greece’s lack of liquidity as a means to exert pressure,” he says. Contrary to what several EU leaders said, Mr Katrougalos denies that the renegotiation of the Greek debt was ever considered during the talks.

Greece’s creditors never officially offered to agree to a Greek debt cut, Cerstin Gammelin confirms in SZ, basing her report on information in the latest published documents on the negotiations. In his interview with Ert1 TV, Greek PM Tsipras also speaks of a 48-hour ultimatum, which he rejected while blaming partner countries for pressuring his government into signing a new memorandum. Mr Tsipras commented that the intentions of the European Commission President were perhaps of the most positive; however he noted that the proposals tabled by the EC President were the IMF’s proposals, not the proposals of the European Commission.

Mr Tsipras expresses his belief that Greece’s partners do not want to throw Greece outside the euro area and that they will not do so, because the cost would be huge. According to Ethnos, EC President Juncker actually sent a new proposal to Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, a few hours before the current Greek programme expires, asking him to change the roadmap at the last minute. Greece has to repay €1.6 billion to the International Monetary Fund today, but according to Reuters, the Greek government will not do so. Canal 5 adds that the default will not be immediate.

Global markets, the INYT reports, shuddered on Monday after Greece closed its banks amid fears that the country was headed toward default. White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced that US President Barack Obama continued the contacts with European leaders in an effort to put an end to the unprecedented crisis in Greece, Greek media report.

©europeanunion2015

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