After a week of continuous developments in Greece and abroad, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed the nation on Wednesday, just a few hours before the planned Eurogroup, and spoke in favor of voting NO in Sunday’s referendum.
Tsipras confirmed that the referendum will take place and unequivocally called on the Greek people,who he believes are being blackmailed to say yes to everything that is being given to them, to vote NO. This response, the prime minister believes, would not lead to a rift with Europe but a return to “a Europe of values.”
“No means strong pressure for a socially just agreement, whose weight will fall in those who have and not on those wage earners and the pensioners,” he said. “An agreement that will put Greece in a short period of time in the international financial markets so that supervision and guardianship can end.”
Greece’s premier also rejected the referendum as being a dilemma between remaining in and leaving the Eurozone, whose Greece’s membership in he described as “given”. Many perceive this to be the underlying question of the referendum. Instead the prime minister said that Greeks will choose if they want this bailout proposal or a viable solution.
“I personally take on the responsibility of an immediate solution after the democratic process,” Tsipras said and added “I call on you to reject the bailout recipe that is destroying Europe.”
He also argued that calling a referendum was a successful move, stating that Greece was given improved proposals for debt restructuring.
“We immediately responded by giving our revisions asking for viable solution, and that is why the Eurogroup convened and which will convene later today,” he said. “If there is a positive outcome, we will respond immediately. In any case the Greek government is and will remain on the negotiating table until the end and will be there on Monday immediately after the referendum with better terms for the Greek side.”
Greece has been under a capital control regime since Sunday with banks having to close due to capital flight and maximum daily ATM withdrawals set at 60 euros. Tsipras blamed the situation on extreme conservatives and called it unacceptable that banks were closed and pensioners were put through such ordeals just because the government decided to let the people choose.
“We owe an explanation to these people,” Tsipras said. “We have been giving a battle all these months to protect your pensions, to protect your right to a decent pension and not a simple tip. The proposals they wanted us to hastily sign wanted overwhelming pension cuts and that is why we rejected that. And that is why they are punishing us.”
On Tuesday Tsipras sent a letter to the European Stability Mechanism requesting a two year deal, which led to an urgent Eurogroup meeting yesterday. Later in the evening Tsipras sent a new letter where he agreed to the creditors demands but requested five revisions.
The Eurogroup, consisting of the Eurozone’s nineteen finance ministers, will convene at 11.30 E.T.