Protesters turn out in Athens

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Greece’s banking system has come to a halt as prime minister Alexis Tsipras declared his strong support for a ‘no’ vote on the bailout referendum, with tens of thousands of Greeks protesting outside parliament in support of the government’s rejection of the deal. In an interview with Greek television, Tsipras said he refused to be a “humiliated prime minister” and objected to a governance of “austerity in perpetuity”. However, he argued that a ‘no’ vote would not necessarily lead to Greece’s exit from the eurozone, but would instead form the basis for its bargaining position in future discussions. “Our aim is for the referendum to be followed by negotiations for which we will be better armed,” he said. European leaders were caught off-guard by the announcement of the referendum, and warned that the vote would be inextricably linked to Greece’s future in the euro currency sphere. The anti-bailout demonstrators in Athens’ Syntagma Square expressed defiance at the demands placed on Greece in spite of the looming default, carrying banners displaying sentiments such as “Don’t back down” or simply “No”. Speaking to the ABC, one woman said of the lenders, “They don’t really care about Greece. They only care about their profits, they don’t care about us.” “The worst thing is not that we lost part of our income or that we pay higher taxes but it is that we lost our hope. This is how I feel.” The uncertainty over Greece’s future has been exacerbated by the closure of banks and long queues at supermarkets. ATM withdrawals have been limited to a maximum of 60 euros. Meanwhile, credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greece’s sovereign debt rating to CCC-, and indicated a 50 per cent chance of the country leaving the eurozone. Wall Street recorded its worst result of the year, with fears that the instability could spread to other vulnerable economies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem have expressed a willingness to conduct further talks, but European Council president Donald Tusk was less optimistic that EU nations would be willing to agree on a loan extension. Tsipras appeared to be all but certain that Greece would default on its debt. “[How] is it possible the creditors are waiting for the IMF payment while our banks are being suffocated?” he said. “Once they decide to stop the suffocation, they will be paid.” Source: ABC Newslast_img

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