Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday that the ‘No’ victory in the country’s bailout referendum did not mean Athens was headed for a so-called Grexit.
“This is not a mandate of rupture with Europe, but a mandate that bolsters our negotiating strength to achieve a viable deal,” Tsipras said in a televised address, adding that the vote showed that “democracy won’t be blackmailed”.
Tsipras said Greece is willing to return to talks, but “this time the issue of debt will be on the negotiating table”, insisting that an International Monetary Fund report seen this week “confirms Greek views that restructuring the debt is necessary”.
“The Greek people made a historic and brave choice,” he tweeted, as thousands of Athenians gathered in central Syntagma Square to celebrate the result. “Their response will alter the existing dialogue in Europe,” he said.
Official results from over 95 percent of polling stations showed more than 61 percent of Greeks had voted ‘No’ to creditor demands for further austerity in return for further bailout funds.
"Tsipras was trying to get a message of unity across tonight, he sought to rectify the divide caused by the referendum and show that the Greeks need to go to Europe as one to achieve a better deal,” FRANCE 24’s Greece correspondent Nathalie Savaricas said.
But Savaricas warned that while Greeks awarded Tsipras a strong mandate with the ‘No’ vote, he now has a matter of days to reach a deal in Brussels. “Tsipras is strong as long as the banks last,” she said. “The banks are all but without money: essentially they have until Tuesday, or Wednesday until collapse.”
A European official close to the talks told FRANCE 24’s Meabh McMahon in Brussels that Sunday's result meant a deal would unlikely be met in the coming days or weeks. “From officials here it doesn’t look good, it really seems like a stalemate,” she said.
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Germany’s vice chancellor rejected Tsipras's claims that the vote would better their chances in negotiations with creditors, saying the Greek government was leading its people “onto a path of bitter austerity and hopelessness”.
Sigmar Gabriel told German daily Tagesspiegel that Tsipras had “torn down the last bridges across which Europe and Greece could move towards a compromise".
“By saying no to the eurozone’s rules, as is reflected in the majority ‘No’ vote, it’s difficult to imagine negotiations over an aid package for billions,” he said.
Head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said the ‘No’ vote was “very regrettable for the future of Greece”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the outcome of Greece’s referendum with French President François Hollande in a telephone call Sunday evening, with both agreeing the ‘No’ vote must be respected, a German government spokesman said.
“The chancellor and the president are in favour of calling for a summit of eurozone heads of state and government heads on Tuesday,” the spokesman said.
The two leaders were meeting in Paris on Monday to discuss the outcome of the referendum and future steps.
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There are no explicit provisions in EU rules for summits of eurozone leaders, but they can be held in exceptional circumstances. The last such summit was held in Brussels last month.
In Athens, Greek opposition leader Antonis Samaras announced his resignation in response to the result.
Samaras, the 64-year-old former prime minister, announced his decision to step down in a televised address after campaigning for a “Yes” vote. “I understand that our great party needs a new start," he said.
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(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)
Date created : 2015-07-05