Anti-Bailout Protests As Greece Rows With EU
Many support Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras and said they would heed his call to vote against the latest deal in a referendum on Sunday – despite the risks the country might then go crashing out of the eurozone.
“The people of Greece have made many sacrifices. What interests me is not the euro but guaranteeing a dignified way of life for the next generations,” said Vanguelis Tseres, 50, who has been unemployed since the start of the debt crisis in 2010, in Syntagma square in Athens.
Speaking on Greek TV on Monday night, Mr Tsipras said the referendum intended to make the country stronger in the fight for a new deal with its international creditors.
Earlier, European leaders had earlier pleaded with Greek voters to back the hotly disputed bailout proposals or face leaving the euro.
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he “feels betrayed” by Greece’s behaviour during recent negotiations.
Mr Juncker even suggested that Mr Tsipras was failing to tell his people “what is really at stake” in the referendum, which led a government spokesman to question Mr Juncker’s “sincerity”.
On Tuesday, Greece is due to pay €1.55bn to the International Monetary Fund – on the same day that its current bailout programme expires.
Mr Tsipras has spoken to Mr Juncker by phone since the remarks were made, and during the call, renewed his pleas for the looming bailout deadline to be extended by a few more days.
To reduce financial stress on its citizens, the Greek government has also made public transport free in Athens, with fares scrapped on the capital’s metro and bus network. The policy will benefit up to 40% of the population nationwide.
Concerned British tourists who are heading to Greece have been told the ATM limits will not apply to foreign debit cards – but in practice, some cash machines may not be able to tell the difference.
The Association of British Travel Agents is advising visitors to take all of the euros they may need in cash, but says credit and debit card transactions in shops and restaurants will be unaffected.
Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed the Foreign Office is now urging holidaymakers to take enough cash to cover all expenses – as well as potential emergencies – while they are in Greece.
Meanwhile, European stock markets have fallen sharply as nervous investors fear the ramifications of a Greek debt default, with the euro weakening further against the pound and dollar.
In Athens, locals have been queuing in sweltering temperatures to withdraw their cash allowance, in what has widely been described as ‘Black Monday’.
Chris Bakas, who is unemployed and was one of those waiting patiently in line, said: “No money, no hope, how did we get in this situation?”
Other member states in the Eurogroup, which has been conducting the negotiations, have said “the door is always open” for further talks with Greece – but some expressed their frustration at how talks collapsed when both parties were “a few centimetres” from a deal.
Mr Juncker has promised Brussels will not seek further cuts to pensions or wages in any reform deal pushed on Athens, one of Greece’s main concerns.