Syriza rebels will form a new party trying to govern Greece, local media reports.
Former Prime Minister and left-wing Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras stood down on August 20, paving the way for new elections.
The move came after Alexis Tsipras lost the support of many of his own members of parliament in a vote on the country’s new bailout with European creditors earlier this month.
Greek media reports say 25 rebel Syriza members of parliament will join the new party, called Laiki Enotita (Popular Unity).
The party will be led by former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who was strongly opposed to the bailout deal.
At a press conference in Athens, Pangiotis Lafazanis said he was ready to respect the result of a referendum held in July, in which 61% of Greeks said they would not support the terms of the bailout.
“If it is necessary for us to cancel the memorandum, we will follow the course of exiting the euro,” Pangiotis Lafazanis is quoted by Kathimerini newspaper as saying.
Syriza won 149 seats in Greece’s 300-seat parliament in the last election in January.
The conservative New Democracy party came second, with 76 seats.
The new Popular Unity party becomes the third largest in parliament.
In exchange for a new €86 billion ($95 billion) from European partners, Alexis Tsipras had to agree to painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms – and keep Greece in the eurozone.
Close to a third of Syriza’s members of parliament abstained or voted against the terms of the new deal last week.
At the time, Panagiotis Lafazanis said he was determined to “smash the eurozone dictatorship”.
On August 21, the head of conservative New Democracy party, Vangelis Meimarakis, met Greece’s president and he will now have three days to form a government.
Observers say he does not have enough support and elections will be called.
Reports suggest the election – the fifth in six years – will be called for September 20.
If Vangelis Meimarakis fails to form a government, the chance will be given to the new party, analysts say, and then the far-right Golden Dawn party.
They, too, are unlikely to be able to gain enough allies to establish a government.
All parties can waive the right to negotiate and allow the president to approve a snap election.
Vangelis Meimarakis, however, has said he will try and use his mandate to form a government in the next few days.
Dimitris Stratoulis, one of the new members of Popular Unity, told Reuters that his party would also try to use the mandate and put a government together.
According to Greek media, PM Alexis Tsipras is set to call a snap election for September 20.
Alexis Tsipras has faced a rebellion within his ruling hard-left Syriza party over a new bailout deal which has been agreed with international creditors.
Greece received the first €13 billion ($14.5 billion) tranche on August 20, allowing it to repay a debt to the European Central Bank (ECB) and avoid a messy default.
However, the austerity measures needed for the deal angered many in his party.
Alexis Tsipras had to agree to further painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms, in exchange for the bailout – and keeping Greece in the eurozone.
The overall bailout package is worth about €86 billion over three years. The payment of the first tranche was made on August 20 after the bailout deal – Greece’s third in five years – was approved by relevant European parliaments.
Alexis Tsipras is to make a televised state address later on Thursday.
The prime ministere is set to submit his resignation to the president to clear the way for the elections, the media reports said.
Energy and Environment Minister Panos Skourletis said on state TV: “The certainty is that the need for elections has arisen.”
Reacting to the reports, Martin Selmayr, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief-of-staff, tweeted that “swift elections in Greece can be a way to broaden support” for the bailout deal.
Some 43 of Syriza’s 149 members of parliament had either opposed the bailout or abstained in last Friday’s Greek parliamentary vote that approved the deal.
The rebellion meant Alexis Tsipras, who was elected this January, had effectively lost his parliamentary majority.
Alexis Tsipras had won power on a manifesto of opposing the stringent austerity conditions that he has now accepted.
The prime minister said he was forced to do so because a majority of Greeks wanted to stay in the eurozone, and this could not be achieved in any other way.
Greece remains under strict capital controls, with weekly limits on cash withdrawals for Greek citizens.
According to the Greek constitution, if the government resigns within a year of election, the president will ask the second-largest party – in this case the conservative New Democracy – to try to form a new government.
If this fails, the next largest party must be given a chance.
However, analysts say both parties can waive this and allow the president to approve the snap election.
German parliament has voted by a large majority to approve a third bailout deal for Greece.
In total 453 members of parliament voted in favor, while 113 rejected the bailout and 18 abstained.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble earlier warned parliament that it would be “irresponsible” to oppose the €86 billion ($95 billion) package.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right conservative bloc has been divided over the deal.
Prior to the vote nearly 60 of Angela Merkel’s members of parliament had indicated they would vote against the rescue package.
In total 47 members of parliament did not attend the session.
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat (CDU) party and its Bavarian CSU allies hold 311 seats in the 631-seat Bundestag. Angela Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats, supported the deal, as did the opposition Greens.
Last month, 65 CDU/CSU politicians refused to support even starting negotiations for a third bailout.
On August 18, the parliaments of Austria, Estonia and Spain backed the bailout.
The Dutch parliament also debated the bailout on August 19, after anti-EU Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders insisted members of parliament should be recalled from their summer recess.
The vote by German parliament was the final hurdle before the first installment of the package – €13 billion – could be released, in time for Greece to repay €3.2 billion on August 20 to the European Central Bank (ECB).
Doubts remain about the Greek government’s commitment to the bailout conditions because it previously pledged to oppose austerity.
In exchange for the bailout – and keeping Greece in the euro – PM Alexis Tsipras agreed to further painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms.
The new loans will be spread over the next three years. The first tranche of €26 billion will include €10 billion to recapitalize Greek banks.
The Greek parliament has approved the draft details a third bailout in five years after talks that lasted through the night and well into the morning.
The new deal involves tax rises and spending cuts in return for a bailout of about €85 billion ($95 billion).
Greece’s Alexis Tsipras also survived a significant rebellion within his own Syriza party.
The terms of the bailout will be discussed by eurozone finance ministers later on Friday, August 14.
The deal received 222 votes for, 64 against and 11 abstentions.
There were 31 “No” votes from Syriza members, and 11 abstentions – the biggest rebellion within Alexis Tsipras’ party so far. The rebels represented almost a third of all Syriza’s members of parliament.
According to the Greek media, the prime minister will ask for a confidence vote before parliament in the next week.
The debate itself was preceded by hours of often angry exchanges in parliament.
Voting started just after 09:30 local time, more than six hours after the main debate began. The debate itself had been delayed by procedural issues.
Members of parliament had to agree on the terms so that eurozone ministers could endorse the draft deal.
Greece faces an urgent deadline on August 20, when it must repay about €3.2 billion to the European Central Bank (ECB).
If Greece had failed to agree on new terms for a bailout, the ECB is likely to have stopped giving emergency funds to Greek banks.
One of Alexis Tsipras’ most vocal critics within his own party was his former ally, parliamentary speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou.
Zoe Konstantopoulou said she could not support the deal, and faced calls from Alexis Tsipras to hurry her handling of the bill. Instead, she took time to raise several concerns, delaying the timing of the debate – to the prime minister’s visible frustration.
Another Syriza member, Panagiotis Lafazanis, told Alexis Tsipras: “I feel ashamed for you. We no longer have a democracy, but a eurozone dictatorship.”
Alexis Tsipras told the parliament: “I have my conscience clear that it is the best we could achieve under the current balance of power in Europe, under conditions of economic and financial asphyxiation imposed upon us.”
Rebels have insisted the government should make good on its electoral promise to reverse spending cuts and tax rises.
In two prior votes on bailout reforms, rebels had refused to approve tax increases, pension cuts and market reforms.
Greece’s economy grew by 0.8% in Q2 2015, confounding expectations of a steep contraction.
The official figures, based on a flash estimate, also revised a reading of 0.2% negative growth in Q1 to a flat reading, showing no change in economic activity.
The reading did not break down which sectors had been most active.
The figures, provided by Greece’s Elstat agency, come as the parliament prepares to vote on new bailout plans.
The Greek government has defended the controversial new program as tough, but essential if the country is to avoid financial collapse.
The credit crisis sparked six years of recession in Greece, from which it emerged in 2014 before shrinking again.
Until these latest figures were released, Greece’s economy had been forecast to shrink again this year by between 2.1% and 2.3%.
Nikos Magginas at National Bank said it was now possible that the contraction would be less than 2%.
He said there were a number of sectors likely to have helped boost activity: “Some economic activity indicators in the second quarter, including consumption, industrial production and tourism, had shown particular resilience.”
Greece must repay some €3.4 billion ($3.8 billion) to the ECB by August 20. If the deal is not finalized by then, Athens may need more emergency funding.
Eurozone finance ministers are expected to meet at the weekend to endorse the draft deal.
PM Alexis Tsipras said the deal would end the country’s economic uncertainty.
The chances of the eurozone vote succeeding improved on Thursday afternoon, when Finland, which originally indicated it favored a temporary Greek exit from the euro, backed the plan.
Finland’s finance minister, Alexander Stubb, said: “We have come a long way during the summer. The future of the euro was at stake…. but now we’ve got a solution and will live with it.”
On August 12, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said the bailout deal was “not going to work”, because it was based on an unsustainable debt burden that the economy would be unable to produce enough to repay.
Yanis Varoufakis was removed from the talks early last month and replaced by the present finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos.
Banks in Greece are reopening after three weeks of closures sparked by the deadlock over the country’s debt.
Greece reached a cash-for-reforms deal aimed at avoiding a debt default and an exit from the eurozone.
However, many restrictions remain, including a block on money transfers abroad, and Greeks also face price rises with an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT).
Meanwhile, Germany has said it is prepared to consider further debt concessions to Greece.
Queues at ATMs have been a feature of life in Greece for weeks, with people waiting in line each day to withdraw a maximum of €60 a day, a restriction imposed amid fears of a run on banks.
From July 20, the daily limit becomes a weekly one, capped at €420, meaning Greeks will not have to queue every day.
While banks throwing open their doors marks the return of some normality to the Greek economy, long-term problems remain.
Unemployment is stubbornly high, and as this chart shows, Greece’s recession is comparable to one of history’s most famous economic crashes.
However, a block on transfers to foreign banks and a ban on cashing cheques remain in place.
Greeks will also pay more on a range of goods and services, including taxis and restaurants, with VAT rising from 13% to 23%.
The rise was among a package of reforms demanded by Greece’s creditors to open talks on the proposed €86 billion bailout.
Members of PM Alexis Tsipras’ party rebelled against the austerity measures demanded by creditors when it was voted through parliament.
It paved the way for Greece to receive a bridging loan, which enables the reopening of the banks and for Athens to repay debts of €4.2 billion, (including €700 million in interest), to the European Central Bank (ECB) due on July 20.
Both Greece and the IMF have been arguing for a restructuring of its €320 billion debt, saying its current position is “unsustainable”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out “a classic haircut” – a markdown of Greece’s debts.
She told German television other forms of relief, such as extending maturities or slashing interest rates, could be considered once the details of the latest program are worked out.
Angela Merkel also played down reports of a row with her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who suggested in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine that he would rather resign than defend something he did not believe in.
“The finance minister will, like me, conduct these negotiations and I can only say that no-one came to me and asked to be relieved,” said Angela Merkel when asked about the suggestion.
Germany, which is the largest contributor to Greek rescue funds, has taken a tough line on Greece.
At one point in the fraught talks over the bailout, Wolfgang Schaeuble suggested Greece could temporarily leave the eurozone while it stabilizes its economy.
PM Alexis Tsipras, who has reshuffled his cabinet to replace rebellious ministers, has another set of reforms to push through parliament on July 22.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has attacked the EU over the terms of a bailout offered to Greece.
The IMF said Greece’s public debt was now “highly unsustainable” and urged debt relief on a scale “well beyond what has been under consideration to date”.
On July 14, the IMF made public advice it had given to the Eurogroup of finance ministers at the weekend.
That advice included proposals that would see some of Greece’s enormous debt written off.
The IMF study said EU countries would have to give Greece 30-years to repay all its European debt, including new loans, and a dramatic extension on the maturity of its debts. Without such extensions creditors might have to accept “deep upfront haircuts” on existing loans, the IMF added.
The split between the IMF and Greece’s European creditors over how best to deal with the country’s debt crisis has been hinted at before, but this is the first time such a disagreement has been made public.
One senior IMF official said the fund would only participate in a third bailout for Greece if EU creditors produce “a clear plan”.
The current deal “is by no means a comprehensive, detailed agreement”, the official said.
Under the new bailout terms, eurozone governments will contribute between €40 billion and €50 billion to Greece’s new three-year bailout, the IMF is expected to contribute another major chunk and the rest will come from selling off state assets and the financial markets.
The split between the IMF and the EU comes just hours before the Greek parliament is due to vote on a raft of economic reforms demanded of the Eurogroup over the weekend as a condition of a third Greek bailout.
The measures – which face resistance from PM Alexis Tsipras’ own lawmakers – include taxation increases and pension curbs.
Greece owes about 10% of its debt to the IMF.
It has missed two deadlines for repayment to the fund and is the first EU country ever to do so.
The IMF also said it regarded forecast rates of growth for Greece as unrealistically high.
Its analysis, released on July 14, pointed to Greek government debt reaching a peak of close to 200% of GDP or national income – over the next two years, which it called “highly unsustainable”.
On July 14, Alexis Tsipras said in an interview on state television that he did not believe in the bailout offered but was willing to implement it to “avoid disaster for the country” and the collapse of the banks.
The conditional agreement to receive up to €86 billion ($95 billion) from the EU over three years depends on further economic reforms – including the labor markets, banks and privatization – being passed after July 15.
Hard-liners in Alexis Tsipras’ own Syriza party are likely to rebel and the junior coalition party, the Independent Greeks, have offered only limited support for the reforms
Meanwhile, unions and trade associations representing those including civil servants, municipal workers and pharmacy owners have called or extended strikes to coincide with Wednesday’s parliamentary votes.
Greece also faces an immediate cash crisis. Banks have been shut since June 29.
Alexis Tsipras warned banks are unlikely to reopen until the bailout deal is ratified, and this could take another month.
A suggestion of providing Greece with emergency funding under the EU-wide European Financial Stability Mechanism has been opposed by Britain, which is not part of the euro but is an EU member.
Greece will receive a third bailout after marathon talks in Brussels where eurozone leaders have reached the agreement.
EU chairman Donald Tusk has announced leaders agreed “in principle” on negotiations for the bailout, “which in other words means continued support for Greece”.
Greece’s PM Alexis Tsipras said that after a “tough battle”, his country had secured a “growth package” of €35 billion, and won debt restructuring.
The country will now have to pass reforms demanded by the eurozone by July 15.
“There will not be a <<Grexit>>,” said European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, referring to the widespread fear that if there had been no deal, Greece would have had to leave the eurozone.
Alexis Tsipras also said he had the “belief and the hope that… the possibility of <<Grexit>> is in the past”.
“The deal is difficult but we averted the pursuit to move state assets abroad,” he said.
“We averted the plan for a financial strangulation and for the collapse of the banking system.”
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the eurozone group of finance ministers, said the agreement included a €50 billion Greece-based fund that will privatize or manage Greek assets. Out of that €50 billion, €25 billion would be used to recapitalize Greek banks, he said.
Greek banks have been closed for two weeks, with withdrawals at cash machines limited to €60 per day. The economy has been put under increasing strain, with some businesses closing and other struggling to pay suppliers.
Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet later on Monday to discuss providing “bridge financing” that would cover Greece’s short-term needs.
Parliaments in several eurozone states have to approve any new bailout.
“The road will be long, and judging by the negotiations tonight, difficult,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on July 13.
French President Francois Hollande said the agreement had allowed Europe to “preserve integrity and solidarity”.
“We also had to show that Europe is capable of solving a crisis that has menaced the eurozone for several years,” he said.
Eurozone leaders had been meeting in Brussels for 17 hours, with talks continuing through the night.
During the talks, reports emerged that Greece was holding out over the proposed role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a new program, and over the fund to hold Greek assets.
Eurogroup is due to resume talks in Brussels on a bailout deal for Greece.
Nine hours of talks on July 11 ended without agreement and Eurogroup leader Jeroen Dijsselbloem described negotiations as “very difficult”.
Eurozone finance ministers have expressed skepticism Greece will implement the austerity measures it has proposed.
They have little time to produce a working plan ready for European leaders who meet in Brussels later on Sunday.
“We have had an in-depth discussion of the Greek proposals, the issue of credibility and trust was discussed and also of course financial issues involved, but we haven’t concluded our discussions,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup of finance ministers, told reporters as the earlier round of talks broke up.
“It is still very difficult but work is in progress.”
Talks are due to resume at 09:00 GMT.
Greek lawmakers have backed the latest measures proposed by PM Alexis Tsipras, despite the fact that many of the ideas were rejected by the Greek people in July 5 referendum.
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is attending the talks in Brussels, trying to convince his counterparts that his government can be trusted to push through their economic reform plan.
Before talks began on July 11, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said there were concerns not just about “the content of the proposals, but also on the even more difficult issue of trust”.
“How can we really expect this government to implement what it’s now promising? I think it’s going to be quite a difficult meeting,” he said.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Greece would have to do more than promise reforms if it wanted more money.
“We will definitely not be able to rely on promises,” he said.
Reports on July 11 suggested that German ministers were drawing up a plan that would allow Greece to exit the eurozone temporarily if this weekend’s talks fail – something Athens says it is not aware of.
There were also unconfirmed reports that Finland had refused to agree to the new bailout proposals, although on its own it is unlikely to stop any deal going ahead.
Greece is asking creditors for €53.5 billion ($59.47 billion) to cover its debts until 2018.
However, the amount of the new bailout could reach €74 billion as Greece seeks a restructuring of its massive debt, which it says is unsustainable.
Of the €74 billion, €58 billion could come from the EU’s bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, with €16 billion from the IMF, sources have said.
As talks drag on, Greece’s financial situation is close to collapse.
Banks have been closed for two weeks and a €60 ($66) daily limit on cash machine withdrawals, imposed on June 28, remains in force for Greek citizens.
French PM Manuel Valls has said his country will do all it can to keep Greece in the eurozone, because allowing it to leave would be too risky.
“The basis for a deal exists,” Manuel Valls said ahead of an emergency eurozone summit.
However, Germany has warned against any unconditional debt write-off.
Eurozone ministers have called on Greece to put forward fresh proposals after Greek voters rejected the latest draft bailout deal in a referendum.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras met Greek political party leaders on July 6 and headed to Brussels on July 7, where he is expected to present new proposals.
His plan is said to include a demand for Greece’s vast €323 billion ($356 billion) debt to be cut by up to 30%.
Greece’s teetering banks are to stay closed on July 7 and July 8.
The European Central Bank (ECB) is maintaining its pressure on the banks, refusing to increase emergency lending and ordering them to provide more security for existing emergency loans.
European finance ministers and officials gathered in Brussels told reporters they wanted to hear new proposals from Greece’s new finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, ahead of a full summit of eurozone leaders later.
“On Sunday the Greeks gave their voice but there are also 18 other countries with a voice,” cautioned European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici.
Peter Kazimir, finance minister of Slovakia – one of the countries with the highest exposure to Greek debt – said he was “skeptical” that a deal would be found, adding that debt relief was a “red line for my country”.
In his comments on July 7, Manuel Valls said the eurozone could not “take the risk of Greece leaving” – for economic as well as political reasons.
“There is no taboo subject when it comes to [Greek] debt,” he told French radio.
Germany, which takes a tougher line, has warned against any unconditional write-off of Greece’s debt, amid fears it would destroy the single currency.
“The other 18 member states of the euro can’t just go along with an unconditional haircut [debt write-off],” said German economy minister and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.
The differences between the French and German stances on Greece reflect a fissure running through the EU, say correspondents.
Several eurozone countries – including Malta, Slovakia and Estonia – are owed significantly more by Greece as a percentage of GDP than Germany or France.
Meanwhile, the ECB said it would keep emergency cash support for Greek banks, which are running out of funds and on the verge of collapse, at the same frozen level – refusing requests for additional support.
It told the banks to lodge more collateral – or assets – with the Bank of Greece, reducing the amount of spare cash the banks have.
Capital controls have been imposed, with people unable to withdraw more than €60 a day from cash points.
The European Commission – one of the “troika” of creditors along with the IMF and the ECB – wanted Athens to raise taxes and slash welfare spending to meet its debt obligations.
Greece’s Syriza-led left-wing government, which was elected in January on an anti-austerity platform, said creditors had tried to use fear to put pressure on Greeks.
Greece’s chief bailout negotiator Euclid Tsakalotos has replaced the country’s outspoken Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who resigned on July 6.
Yanis Varoufakis had become a lightning rod in Greece’s talks with Europe. In resigning, he conceded that his poor relations with other European finance ministers had become an obstacle in the search for a solution to Greece’s debt crisis.
He wrote in a blog post on July 6: “I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted <<partners>>, for my … <<absence>> from its meetings; an idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement.
“I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”
During his time in government, Yanis Varoufakis refused to adopt the mannerisms of a conventional European politician. Instead, he dressed informally and loudly. He frequently appeared in media, launching biting rhetorical attacks against rival negotiators and governments.
While it may have appealed to populists, critics said Yanis Varoufakis’ abrasive style alienated many in the negotiating room.
His resignation came just a day after Greece voted against Europe’s latest bailout offer, raising the prospect that Greece could now suffer a worse economic disaster and lose its place in the euro.
Euclid Tsakalotos’ first task will be to present Greece’s ideas for breaking the deadlock at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on July.
Meanwhile, eurozone finance ministers say they expect to hear new proposals from Greece after Greek people voted to reject the terms of a bailout.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was currently “no basis” for talks on a new bailout and the ball was in Greece’s court.
Angela Merkel has met French President Francois Hollande in Paris ahead of a eurozone summit on July 7.
Meanwhile, Greek banks are to stay closed on July 7 and July 8.
Banks had been due to reopen on July 7 but the head of the Greek banking association, Louka Katseli, said the period had been extended following talks on July 6.
Germany’s economy minister has warned against any unconditional write-off of Greece’s debt, saying it would destroy the single currency.
Eurozone finance ministers are to meet on July 7 followed by a full summit of eurozone leaders. According to a Greek government official, PM Alexis Tsipras is expected to present fresh proposals at the summit.
Alexis Tsipras has noted that a recent IMF assessment confirmed that restructuring Greece’s debt of more than €300 billion ($331 billion) was necessary.
Greek people decisively rejected the terms of an international bailout, the first results from a controversial debt referendum have shown as two-thirds of ballots were counted.
Figures published by the interior ministry showed 61% of those whose ballots had been counted voting “No”, against 39% voting “Yes”.
Greece’s governing Syriza party campaigned for a “No”, saying the bailout terms were humiliating.
The “Yes” campaign warned this could see Greece ejected from the eurozone.
Some European officials had also said that a “No” would be seen as an outright rejection of talks with creditors.
However, Greek government officials have insisted that a “No” vote would strengthen their hand and that they could rapidly strike a deal for fresh funding in resumed negotiations.
Greek banks will reopen by July 7, they say.
Reacting to the result, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called it “a big yes to a democratic Europe”.
Yanis Varoufakis said Greece would be “positive” in negotiations with its creditors.
Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s deputy foreign minister, told Star TV that two developments would allow Greece to pursue “a solution that is financially viable”.
“Firstly, the government now has a new popular mandate and the second is the latest [International Monetary Fund] report which says that the Greek debt is unsustainable.”
Greece had been locked in negotiations with its creditors for months when the Greek government unexpectedly called a referendum on the terms it was being offered.
Banks have been shut and capital controls in place since June 29, after the European Central Bank declined to give Greece more emergency funding.
Withdrawals at cash machines have been limited to €60 per day.
State Minister Nikos Pappas, a close ally of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, said it was “absolutely necessary” to restore liquidity to the banks now the referendum was over.
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni tweeted: “Now it is right to start trying for an agreement again. But there is no escape from the Greek labyrinth with a Europe that’s weak and isn’t growing.”
Belgium’s finance minister said the door remained open to restart talks with Greece “literally, within hours”.
Eurozone finance ministers could again discuss measures “that can put the Greek economy back on track and give the Greeks a perspective for the future,” he told the VRT network.
President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are scheduled to meet in Paris on July 6 to discuss the situation, the French president’s office said.
Greece’s latest bailout expired on June 30 and Greece missed a €1.6 billion payment to the IMF.
The European Commission – one of the “troika” of creditors along with the IMF and the European Central Bank – wanted Athens to raise taxes and slash welfare spending to meet its debt obligations.
Greece’s Syriza-led government, which was elected in January on an anti-austerity platform, said it had been presented with an “ultimatum”.
The Greek government’s opponents and some Greek voters had complained that the question on the ballot paper was unclear. EU officials said it applied to the terms of an offer that was no longer on the table.
The projected turnout in Sunday’s referendum was about 60%.
Greeks are voting in a controversial referendum on whether to accept the terms of an international bailout.
Polling stations opened at 07:00 local time, with the first results expected in the evening.
The government has urged a “No” vote, but opponents warn this could see Greece ejected from the eurozone.
Greeks appear evenly divided over the issue, according to opinion polls. Turnout is expected to be high, after a frenetic week of campaigning.
Leaders in the governing radical-left Syriza party have criticized the bailout terms as humiliating. They say rejecting the terms could give them more leverage in talks over Greece’s massive debt.
“No one can ignore the determination of a people taking its destiny in its own hands,” PM Alexis Tsipras said, after casting his ballot on July 5.
However, international creditors have warned that a “No” vote could choke off vital funding for Greek banks and lead to “Grexit – a chaotic departure from the common European currency. The “Yes” campaign has framed the vote as a referendum on Greek membership of the eurozone.
Supporters of both sides held rallies in Athens on July 3. Banks stayed shut because of capital controls imposed after the expiry of the current bailout program.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told local media on Saturday that the EU had “no legal grounds” to throw Greece out of the euro.
On the eve of the referendum, Yanis Varoufakis accused Athens’ creditors of trying to sow fear around the vote. He told Spain’s El Mundo newspaper: “Why did they force us to close the banks? To instil fear in people. And spreading fear is called terrorism.”
Yanis Varoufakis said that the banks in Greece would reopen on July 7 whatever the outcome and that PM Alexis Tsipras would still reach an agreement with creditors if the result was “No” in the referendum.
Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, one of Greece’s harshest critics, suggested that if Greece were to leave the eurozone, it might only be temporary.
“Whether with the euro or temporarily without it: only the Greeks can answer this question,” he told the German newspaper Bild.
“And it is clear that we will not leave the people in the lurch.”
The referendum question is: “Must the agreement plan submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the Eurogroup of 25 June, 2015, and comprised of two parts which make up their joint proposal, be accepted? The first document is titled <<Reforms for the completion of the current program and beyond>> and the second <<Preliminary debt sustainability analysis>>.”
Voters must check one of two boxes – “not approved/no” or, below it, “approved/yes”.
Rival rallies have been held in the Greek capital ahead of a crucial debt referendum on July 5.
PM Alexis Tsipras was greeted with huge cheers by tens of thousands of Greeks when he told supporters to vote “No” to the terms of an international bailout.
Those attending another huge rally nearby warned a “No” vote would see Greece ejected from the eurozone.
A Greek court earlier rejected a challenge to the legality of the referendum and it will go ahead.
Greece’s current bailout program ran out on June 30. All week banks have been shut, with limits imposed on cash withdrawals.
Another war of words flared late on July 3 when Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis dismissed a Financial Times report that Greece was preparing contingency plans for a possible “bail-in” of bank deposits as a “malicious rumor”. The report quoted sources as saying banks were considering a “haircut” of 30% on deposits over €8,000.
Opinion polls on July 3 suggested Greece was evenly split over the vote – an Ipsos survey putting “Yes” supporters at 44% and “No” at 43%.
Opinion polls within 24 hours of the voting are banned, as are more campaign rallies.
Estimates of the crowds gathered in Athens on July 3 ranged from 25,000 to 50,000, with police and observers agreeing that the crowds at the “No” rally were bigger.
Rallies for both camps were held in 10 other Greek cities.
In his speech, Alexis Tsipras reiterated the themes of almost daily addresses over the past week – the need for Greece to preserve its dignity and “say a proud <<No>> to [European] ultimatums” to sign up to fresh austerity.
The prime minister said: “This is not a protest. It is a celebration to overcome fear and blackmail.”
Alexis Tsipras urged Greeks to “decide to live in dignity in Europe”.
He denied a “Yes” vote would mean leaving Europe, saying: “We are not going to allow them to destroy Europe.”
Only a few hundred meters away, supporters of a “Yes” vote said they believed Alexis Tsipras could not deliver on such a promise.
Athens Mayor George Kaminis told supporters at the rally that people did not even understand the question on the ballot paper.
He said: “We have been dragged into a pointless referendum that is dividing the people and hurting the country.”
Claims by Greek politicians that a “No” vote will strengthen their hand in bailout negotiations have been rebuffed by European leaders.
Both EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Jeroen Dijsselbloem – head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers – have insisted a “No” vote will weaken the Greeks’ position and that even a “Yes” vote will not mean a deal is easy to agree.
Several European officials have complained in strong terms about Greece’s abrupt decision to hold a referendum on the terms of a bailout offer they say is no longer on the table.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has made a defiant speech as cash withdrawal limits begin to bite for bank customers.
Alexis Tsipras promised Greeks their pensions and wages would be safe.
Earlier the prime minister offered new concessions to eurozone partners, accepting most conditions that were on the table before talks collapsed.
Germany says talks requested by Greece will not be possible until after a debt referendum called by Alexis Tsipras for July 5.
In his address on July 1, Alexis Tsipras thanked Greeks for their “calm” in the face of bank closures and said their salaries and pensions would “not be lost”.
He angrily denied he had a secret plan to take Greece out of the euro, calling those who accused him of this “liars”.
Greek banks did not open this week after the ECB froze their liquidity lifeline.
Withdrawals from cash machines are capped at just €60 a day and long queues have been forming outside banks.
However, up to 1,000 branches re-opened on July 1 to allow pensioners – many of whom do not use bank cards – a one-off weekly withdrawal of up to €120.
Many pensioners had waited outside banks from before dawn, only to be told to return on Thursday or Friday, the Associated Press reported.
Some pensioners were told their pensions had not yet been deposited, AP said.
Close to 300 pensioners marched on the Bank of Greece in Athens after being given only a small sum from banks in the morning instead of the entire €120.
The letter sent to creditors by PM Alexis Tsipras says he was prepared to accept a deal put forward last weekend, if a few changes were agreed.
European markets surged on the news Greece might be willing to accept a deal.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said no new bailout talks would be possible before Greece holds Sunday’s referendum.
As well as seeking further amendments to the creditors’ proposals, Alexis Tsipras’ latest offer is tied explicitly to agreement on a request for a third bailout lasting two years and amounting to €29.1 billion.
His application for a third bailout was accompanied by a request for debt restructuring that other eurozone countries would, at this stage, be unwilling to consider.
Two key meetings are to take place to discuss aid for Greece, after Athens missed the deadline for a €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) payment to the IMF on June 30.
Eurozone finance ministers were set to discuss Greece’s new proposal in a conference call.
The second meeting will see officials with the European Central Bank (ECB) deciding on whether to demand more collateral from Greek banks on emergency loans it has given them.
With the previous eurozone bailout expired, Greece no longer has access to billions of euros in funds.
Only three other countries are still in arrears to the IMF – Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe. Between them, they owe €1.6 billion, only marginally more than Greece.
Greece has failed to repay €1.6 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), hours after eurozone ministers refused to extend its bailout.
However, eurozone ministers say they will discuss a last-minute request from Greece for a new two-year bailout on July 1.
Greece is the first advanced country to fail to repay a loan to the IMF and is now formally in arrears.
There are fears that this could put Greece at risk of leaving the euro.
The IMF confirmed that Greece had failed to make the payment, shortly after 22:00 GMT on June 30.
“We have informed our Executive Board that Greece is now in arrears and can only receive IMF financing once the arrears are cleared,” said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice.
Gerry Rice confirmed the IMF had received a request from Greece to extend the payment deadline, which he said would go to the board “in due course”.
With the eurozone bailout expired, Greece no longer has access to billions of euros in funds and could not meet its IMF repayment.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has also frozen its liquidity lifeline to Greek banks. Meanwhile, ratings agencies have further downgraded the country’s debt.
Eurogroup chairman and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem earlier said it would be “crazy” to extend the Greek bailout beyond its June 30 deadline as Athens was refusing to accept the European proposals on the table.
Greece’s left-wing Syriza government, elected on an anti-austerity platform, has been in deadlock with its creditors for months over the terms of a third bailout.
Speaking after the conference call with other eurozone ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that a Greek request for a new €29.1 billion European aid program would be considered in a telephone conference on July 1.
According to new reports, Greece may submit new proposals on July 1 that rein in its spending
Greece’s request on June 30 asked for funds from Europe’s bailout fund – the European Stability Mechanism – as well as a restructuring of Greece’s public debt.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier said she had ruled out further negotiations until after July 5 referendum, which will ask Greeks if they want to accept the deal offered by their creditors.
The Greek government took the unilateral decision to hold a vote last weekend, angering eurozone ministers.
Greece has requested a new bailout deal from the eurozone, just hours before it must repay €1.6 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Greek government is asking for a new two-year €29.1 billion aid deal from a bailout mechanism for eurozone countries.
Eurozone finance ministers discussed the Greek offer in a teleconference on Tuesday evening, but made no decision.
If it fails to make the IMF payment, Greece could risk leaving the euro.
The European Commission, which is one of Greece’s creditors, wants Athens to raise taxes and cut welfare spending.
No advanced economy has ever missed a payment on an IMF loan.
Amid fears of a Greek default on its huge public debt of €323 billion – and a possible exit from the euro – long queues of people are continuing to snake from many cash machines in Greece, where withdrawals are capped at just €60 a day.
On Tuesday evening, thousands of pro-EU protesters braved stormy weather and gathered outside the Greek parliament in Athens to urge a “Yes” vote in a referendum on July 5 over whether the country should accept its creditors’ proposals.
It follows a similar demonstration by those advocating a “No” vote – the path preferred by PM Alexis Tsipras – on June 29.
Greek banks did not open this week after talks between Greece and its creditors broke down.
However, up to 1,000 bank branches will re-open from July 1 to allow pensioners – many of whom do not use bank cards – to withdraw up to €120.
The European Commission offered a slightly amended deal to Greece late on Monday night, which the Greek government did not accept.
Instead, Greece responded with a request for a two-year deal under the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the bailout mechanism for eurozone countries whose aim is to maintain the stability of the euro. The ESM did not exist when Greece was bailed out in 2010 and 2012.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted that the eurozone’s wealthiest member will not enter into new aid negotiations with Greece before its weekend referendum.
“Before a referendum, as planned, is carried out, we won’t negotiate on anything new at all,” Angela Merkel said.
The ECB is believed to have disbursed virtually all of its emergency funds for Greece, amounting to €89 billion.
The question which will be put to Greek voters on July 5 will not be as simple as whether they want to stay in the euro or not.
Instead it asks Greeks to approve or reject the specific terms laid out by Greece’s creditors.
“Should the agreement plan submitted by the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the June 25 eurogroup and consisting of two parts, which form their single proposal, be accepted? The first document is titled <<Reforms for the completion of the Current Program and Beyond>> and the second <<Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis>>.
The two appendix documents – “Reforms for the completion of the current program and beyond” and “Preliminary debt sustainability analysis” – don’t sound much more easily digestible than the ballot.
There is still a question over when and how voters will be presented with those documents, and whether world-class economists will be on hand at polling stations to explain them.
As well as being a little bit dense, the Greek ballot also controversially puts the “No” option – favored by the Greek government – above the “Yes” option, leading some to accuse it of bias.
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged population to reject international creditors’ demands in a snap referendum on the country’s debt crisis due on July 5.
Alexis Tsipras said a clear vote against austerity would help Greece negotiate a better settlement to the crisis.
Otherwise, the prime minister warned, he would not stay in office to oversee more cuts.
Greece’s bailout expires on June 30, the same day it faces a deadline to repay a €1.6 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The loan is to be repaid by 18:00 Washington time (22:00 GMT).
EU leaders have warned that a rejection of the creditors’ proposals on July 5 would mean Greece leaving the eurozone – though Alexis Tsipras says he does not want this to happen.
Talks between Greece and its creditors broke down last week, leading to Greek banks having to shut this week. The uncertainty also caused stock markets to fall sharply on June 29.
Asian markets rebounded on June 30, with stock markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul all rising compared with June 29.
Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the Greek parliament in Athens on Monday evening in a show of support for the government’s proposals. A rival protest organized by those calling for a “Yes” vote is due later on Tuesday, June 30.
Speaking live on state TV on Monday evening, PM Alexis Tsipras appealed to Greeks to reject the creditors’ proposals, saying this would give Greece “more powerful weapons” to take to the negotiating table.
“We ask you to reject it with all the might of your soul, with the greatest margin possible,” he said.
Alexis Tsipras told viewers he did not believe the creditors wanted Greece out of the eurozone “because the cost is immense”.
He also hinted strongly that he would resign if the result of the referendum was a “Yes” vote.
“If the Greek people want to proceed with austerity plans in perpetuity, which will leave us unable to lift our head… we will respect it, but we will not be the ones to carry it out,” Alexis Tsipras said.
The Greek government has already been forced to order all banks to be closed until July 6 after the European Central Bank (ECB) decided not to extend its emergency funding.
The ECB is believed to have disbursed virtually all of its ceiling for funds, amounting to €89 billion.
Long queues of people were seen snaking outside ATMs on June 29, with withdrawals capped at just €60 a day.
Elderly people, many without bank cards, were seen waiting outside closed bank branches in the hope of getting access to funds.
EU leaders have warned Greek people that rejecting international creditors’ proposals in the bailout referendum called for Sunday, July 5, would mean leaving the euro.
German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the vote would be “Yes or No to the eurozone”.
Greece’s PM Alexis Tsipras has urged a “No” vote but insists he wants Greece to stay in the euro.
Talks between Greece and its creditors broke down last week, leading to Greek banks having to shut this week.
Global stock markets saw big falls on Monday, June 29, after the weekend’s events.
As well as Sigmar Gabriel, the leaders of the eurozone’s other two largest economies said Greek voters would effectively be deciding whether or not they wanted to stay in the eurozone on July 5.
Italian PM Matteo Renzi said the choice would be between the euro and the drachma, while French President Francois Hollande said: “What’s at stake is… knowing whether the Greeks want to stay within the eurozone.”
Speaking to Greek television on June 29, Alexis Tsipras urged as many Greeks to vote “No” as possible on July 5 to give the Greek government a stronger position to restart negotiations.
He said his government had a mandate “to be within the European framework but with more justice”.
“They will not kick us out of the eurozone because the cost is immense,” he said.
Earlier, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he felt “betrayed” by the “egotism” shown by Greece in the failed talks on giving heavily indebted Greece the last payment of its international bailout.
Jean-Claude Juncker said Greek proposals were “delayed” or “deliberately altered” but added the door was still open to talks.
Despite the public war of words, a Greek official said Alexis Tsipras had spoken to Jean-Claude Juncker on June 26 and asked him to extend Greece’s bailout until the referendum.
A critical deadline looms on June 30, when Greece is due to pay back €1.6 billion to the IMF – the same day its current bailout expires. There are fears of a default and a possible exit from euro.
Jean-Claude Juncker said that he still believed a Greek exit from the euro was not an option and insisted that the creditors’ latest proposal meant more social fairness.
The question which will be put to voters on July 5 will not be as simple as whether they want to stay in the euro or not – instead it asks Greeks to approve or reject the specific terms laid out by Greece’s creditors:
“Should the agreement plan submitted by the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the June 25 eurogroup and consisting of two parts, which form their single proposal, be accepted? The first document is titled <<Reforms for the completion of the Current Program and Beyond>> and the second <<Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis>>.
Greece’s PM Alexis Tsipras has announced that the Greek banks are to remain closed and capital controls will be imposed.
Speaking after the European Central Bank (ECB) said it was not increasing emergency funding to Greek banks, Alexis Tsipras said Greek deposits were safe.
Greece is due to make a €1.6 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on June 30 – the same day that its current bailout expires.
The country risks default and moving closer to a possible exit from the eurozone.
Greeks have been queuing to withdraw money from cash machines over the weekend, and the Bank of Greece said it was making “huge efforts” to keep the machines stocked.
Greek banks are expected to stay shut until July 7, two days after Greece’s planned referendum on the terms it had been offered by international creditors for receiving fresh bailout money.
The Athens stock exchange will also be closed on June 29.
Eurozone finance ministers blamed Greece for breaking off the talks, and the European Commission took the unusual step on Sunday of publishing proposals by European creditors that it said were on the table at the time.
Greece described creditors’ terms as “not viable”, and asked for an extension of its current deal until after the vote was completed.
“[Rejection] of the Greek government’s request for a short extension of the program was an unprecedented act by European standards, questioning the right of a sovereign people to decide,” Alexis Tsipras on June 28 said in a televised address.
“This decision led the ECB today to limit the liquidity available to Greek banks and forced the Greek central bank to suggest a bank holiday and restrictions on bank withdrawals.”
Alexis Tsipras said he had sent a new request for an extension to the bailout.
“I am awaiting their immediate response to a fundamental request of democracy,” he said.
Following the news from Greece the euro fell by nearly two US cents against the dollar in early Asia Pacific trade, Reuters reported.
The announcement comes after a particularly turbulent few days for Greece.
The current ceiling for the ECB’s emergency funding – Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) – is €89 billion. It is thought that virtually all that money has been disbursed.
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