Greek banks will shut down from Monday, June 29, to Monday, July 6 inclusive, the government said following a Cabinet meeting that ran into early Monday, following the breakdown of talks between Greece and its creditors.
Greek citizens will be allowed to withdraw a maximum of 60 euros from ATMs per card daily – pensioners being exempted – while both pensions and wages will be paid as normal.
Foreign visitors currently in Greece or planning to visit Greece will not be affected by the daily cash limits, the government added, as long as their debit/credit cards were issued outside Greece.
All transactions within Greece carried out electronically will also not be affected, as long as transfers are not made to overseas accounts.
Details of the measures were published online in the Government Gazette and go into effect immediately.
The measures come after the failure of an agreement between Greece and its creditors (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund), and following an announcement by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling for a referendum this coming Sunday on approving the creditors’ proposals, voted on by Parliament.
TSIPRAS BRIEFS CABINET
At a late Sunday night Cabinet meeting that ran into Monday morning, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras briefed ministers about recent developments.
The government considers the Eurogroup’s refusal of an extension to the current programme “unacceptable”, according to government sources, while it believes that it is necessary to allow the Greek people to make their own decision, especially because the lenders’ ultimatum exceeds the public mandate, through the referendum scheduled for Sunday.
The government also believes that the Eurogroup did not follow rules when it convened on Saturday because it excluded the Greek finance minister and his signature is missing from the joint statement; it added however that there is constant contact with its European partners.
Neither was there any problem in the collaboration with the governor of the Bank of Greece, the sources said, especially related to his actions in terms of ELA.
In a televised address on Sunday night, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the Eurogroup’s decision to not extend Greece’s programme and the subsequent ELA cap imposed by the European Central Bank (ECB) had forced the Bank of Greece to recommend capital controls and a bank holiday. At the same time, he assured Greeks that bank deposits, as well as wages and pensions, were secure.
“The refusal of a short extension and the attempt to cancel a supreme democratic process is an act of insult and utmost shame for the democratic traditions of Europe,” he said.
Denouncing the Eurogroup’s decision as an “unprecedented in European rights action of disputing a sovereign people’s right to democratic choice,” Tsipras announced that on Sunday he had again sent a request for a brief extension of the programme, this time addressed to European Council President Donald Tusk and the other 18 heads of state and government in the Eurozone, as well as the heads of the ECB, European Commission and European Parliament.
“I expect their immediate reply to a fundamental issue of democracy. They are the only ones that can as soon as possible, even tonight, overturn the Eurogroup’s decision and allow the ECB to restore the flow of liquidity to the banks,” he said.
He said the Eurogroup’s refusal to give a brief extension of Greece’s bailout programme so that a referendum on the creditors’ “ultimatum” could be held had led to the ECB’s decision not to raise the ELA ceiling for Greek banks.
“It is more than clear that this decision has no other goal apart from blackmailing the people’s will and preventing the smooth conduct of the referendum,” he said.
“They will not succeed, however. These actions will bring the precisely opposite result,” Tsipras said, firming the Greek people’s resolve to reject the “unacceptable memorandum proposals and the lenders’ ultimatums.”
Tsipras urged Greeks to stay calm and patient in the coming days, assuring them that bank deposits were absolutely secure, as was the payment of wages and pensions.
“Any difficulties that arise must be dealt with calmly and resolutely. The more calmly we face the difficulties, the more quickly they will be overcome and the milder their consequences will be,” he said.
“Remember: in these crucial hours… fear is our only fear. We must not let it defeat us. We will pull through. The dignity of the Greeks in the face of blackmail and injustice will send a message of hope and pride throughout Europe.”
Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday urged the Greek people to stay calm and united, in a statement after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that capital controls would likely be imposed. At the same time, he called on Tsipras to cancel plans for a referendum, which he said now “lacked content” and had become a parody.
Alexis Tsipras knows that it was primarily his own mistakes that forced him to even close the banks, Samaras said.
The country must remain in the heart of Europe and the euro, Samaras emphasised, and the prime minister has an obligation to continue the negotiations. If he cannot do it himself, let him brave a great national understanding, he added.
“On our part, we will do everything to restore normality in the country and return hope to the Greeks,” the ND leader said.
Ruling coalition leader SYRIZA on Sunday announced that the party will take part in a demonstration taking place in Syntagma Square on Monday night at 19:30, while stressing that “The Greek people cannot be blackmailed. They are not terrorised. They defend democracy.”
“At the referendum on July 5, we will say ‘no’ to austerity. We say ‘no’ to the creditors’ ultimatums. We say no to the dissolution of democracy. We take part in Monday’s mobilisations and send a strong message of pride, hope and dignity to Greece and Europe,” the party announced.
Opposition Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis on Sunday challenged Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to face off against him in a televised debate, in statements made on the Greek channel ANT1.
“I call Alexis Tsipras to come and talk. Let him tell us what sort of negotiation he carried out and reveal to the Greek people where there are shadows. Let us see who is closer to German policy and who isn’t. I now call on Mr. Tsipras to do with me what Antonis Samaras did not agree to do with him, in other words to talk,” Theodorakis said.
The head of the Potami party also urged the Europhiles in SYRIZA to openly state their position, saying it was time for people who believed in Europe and were in SYRIZA to talk and exert pressure.
“There cannot be pressure only from the drachma lobby and those tha my have an interest from the country’s entrance into a dark tunnel,” he said.
Theodorakis was also clear that the question really at stake in the upcoming referendum was whether Greece’s currency the following Monday will be the euro or the drachma.
“The first party to hail the referendum was Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn, Independent Greeks and SYRIZA. These three will take us out of Europe. Will we accept this,” he said.
In a proclamation issued on Sunday, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) urged voters to use the July 5 referendum as an opportunity “to strengthen the questioning of the EU, strengthen the struggle for the only realistic exit from the current barbarity.”
“A ‘no’ in the referendum will be interpreted by the Greek government as approval of its own anti-popular proposal…a ‘yes’ will be interpreted as consent to the barbaric measures of the troika and remaining in the EU at all costs,” a KKE announcement said, adding that both answers amounted to a “yes to the EU and capitalistic barbarity.”
It urged voters not to select between the two choices presented to it but vote for KKE’s proposal instead, condemning the ruling SYRIZA-ANEL for rejecting KKE’s proposal and refusing to even put it to a vote in Parliament.
Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Terens Quick, a member of the junior partner in Greece’s ruling coalition Independent Greeks (ANEL), on Sunday urged Greeks to “give their soul with a dynamic ‘No’ to those that want to impose on us the eradication of the Greek economy, the break up of the Greek family and our submission in their colonial protectorate.”
“Our country is full of places of sacrifice, where Greek men and women have given their lives in the name of freedom and our national sovereignty,” he said, while attending events marking the anniversary of an 1821 battle in Ancient Olympia, during Greece’s war of independence against Ottoman rule.