International lenders increase pressure to the cash-dry country ahead of July 5th vote. A heated debate in Parliament – ECB holds the keys of the Greek banks.
Athens.- Greek lawmakers on Sunday authorized with wide majority Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ proposed July 5th bailout referendum, to decide whether they agree with the proposals of the creditors.
Meanwhile Eurogroup rejected a Greek proposal for an extension of the bailout program that expires on June 30th, leaving the country without financing and the banks dry of cash. ECB was expected to make a crucial decision whether to continue ELA. According to sources, ECB proposes capital controls for the Greek Banks, a decision that has to be signed by Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis.
Greeks are due to vote on whether to accept or reject the latest terms offered by creditors to Athens in order to unlock billions of euros in bailout funds.
A total of 178 lawmakers backed the proposal and 120 voted against. Two were absent. Deputies from the far right Golden Dawn voting with the government and pro-European opposition parties New Democracy, PASOK and To Potami and the KKE Communist Party voting against.
The debate in the Greek Parliament was heated and lasted until over 2 am on Sunday.
The referendum will take place next Sunday either Greece’s European partners want it or not, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday in his speech in parliament during a debate on his government’s decision to hold a referendum on July 5.
“We will all respect the result. We will defend democracy, popular sovereignty and the founding values of Europe,” Tsipras told lawmakers, while adding that the government will not ask permission by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble or Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem to allow the people to have their say and secure democracy in the country it was born.
He criticized the seclusion of Finance Minister yanis Varoufakis by the second Eurogroup meeting earlier Saturday, saying “this day will go down in our common European story as gloomy, not only because some decided outside and beyond any institutional process to block an equal partner from a meeting, but also because finance ministers questioned the right of a sovereign country to decide on its future democratically.”
He explained that the government’s decision to allow the people to express their wish is not a decision to cause a rift with Europe, but to break away from practices that offend Europe. “I’m certain the Greek people will live up to their history and say no to the ultimatum … and will send a message of democracy and dignity throughout Europe,” Tsipras said.
The premier said his government was not asked to compromise, they were asked to surrender their political dignity. “We didn’t reject compromise, but our country’s surrender as a new economic colony to foreign interests,” he noted.
Commenting on the negotiations of the past five months, the leader of SYRIZA said the Greek delegation submitted equivalent measures to the extremely high demands of the institutions to achieve a deal in the last minute.
He explained that the insistence to include the IMF in the decision limited every possibility of reaching an honourable agreement, while on the issue the country’s debt, Greece only received the same vague promises as the ones given to previous governments.
Main opposition leader Antonis Samaras on Saturday accused the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of committing a “coup” by holding a “farce referendum” which calls on Greeks to decide with a “Yes” of “no” on whether it will stay in the Euro.
“You failed dramatically and loudly Mr. Tsipras,” the leader of New Democracy (ND) told lawmakers during a parliamentary debate on the government’s decision to hold a referendum on the proposals tabled by the institutions.
“You brought an unacceptable agreement and you’re leading the country out of the euro and Europe. Your agreement is worse than any bailout programme. Before the elections, you promised 11 billion euros for benefits and you bring austerity measures worth 8.5 billion euros,” he added.
Samaras then criticized the government’s decision to hold a referendum. “You are calling on people to approve themselves their exit from the EU. What Greek people will be called to say is not a ‘yes’ or ‘No’ to the 8.5 billion euros proposed by the troika or the Tsipras government.”
And the leader of ND continued saying: “Why didn’t you hold a referendum for your proposal? Is it because you would have voted against it collectively? You signed your name on the proposal which your finance minister stated it leads to unemployment, is recessionary and looks like a game compared to [former finance minister Gikas] Hardouvelis’ e-mail.”
“I state it clearly, us Greeks want to remain firmly in the heart of Europe … The referendum drags the country out of Europe,” he continued while he rejected the government’s claims it has conducted a good negotiation.
“The negotiation is over. They pulled the finance minister out of the Eurogroup. The extension we requested, we didn’t get it. On Tuesday night, the country will be without a programme, without the protective shield of Europe,” the main opposition leader said.
Golden Dawn is in favour of the government’s proposal to hold a referendum and is against the proposals of the institutions, party leader Nikos Mihaloliakos said on Saturday during a relevant debate in parliament.
He spoke of a “despicable blackmailing proposal by the Europeans” and expressed the conviction the Greek people will reject it.
Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis on Saturday accused the government of trying to create divisions among Greeks and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of caring more about his party than Greece.
“People are divided, only the camps are not the ones you expected. On the one side, you got … Golden Dawn, [junior coalition partner] ANEL of course and a part of SYRIZA, and on the other it’s the rest of society,” Theodorakis told lawmakers during a debate in parliament on the government’s decision to hold a referendum on the institutions’ proposal.
“All your actions in the past five months show that all you care about are SYRIZA’s components. The party and its professional officials. And if the party army wants the drachma, then it’s the drachma. And since the army doesn’t want Europe, then let’s exit from Europe. As long as the army is content and stays close to you,” the leader of Potami said.
He also described the government’s visits to Brussels as a school field trip, saying they were unprepared and had no papers, no plan.
“We have a proposal for you. Withdraw the proposal for a referendum and submit for approval in parliament your own proposal – if you have one. Take a positive vote and take that to Europe. Or make now a specific counter-proposal to the institutions. But do it now,” he concluded.
Communist Party (KKE) secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas called on citizens to say a big ‘no’ to the lenders as well to the government’s proposal in his address to the parliament plenum on Saturday, which is debating on the government’s proposal to hold a referendum next Sunday.
“Neither the one proposal nor the other provide a solution to the problem. Government’s ‘no’ is a fraud in order for people to say ‘yes’ to its anti-popular policy,” stated Koutsoumbas adding that they want to bound people ‘hand and foot’ and to tell them afterwards that it was their choice.”
Moreover, he called the people to rally with KKE towards the direction of a disengagement from the European Union.
The president of PASOK party, Fofi Gennimata accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday of following a dangerous policy and of having a hidden agenda, during her speech in a parliamentary debate on the government’s decision to hold a referendum.
“We don’t need any referendum. Don’t try to avoid the redeeming admission for Greeks and Greece of your weakness and failure. You won’t be able to escape by trapping Greeks in questions not on what they want but on what they don’t want,” Gennimata noted and called instead for elections.
“Call elections now, prime minister, the lies are over. Today, in front of your national delegation, it’s time for the difficult hour of truth,” she added and accused Tsipras of misinforming the public and lacking honesty, while she also blasted his failed negotiations which led to a dead end.