BRUSSELS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) to press ahead with a controversial bailout referendum as European leaders ruled out any fresh debt offer before Sunday’s vote.
Hours after Greece became the first advanced economy to default on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) repayment, the leftist leader used a live TV address to urge Greeks to vote “No” on Sunday to creditors’ current demands.
Tsipras, at loggerheads with Greece’s creditors since his election in January, insisted a “No” vote would “not signify a rupture with Europe” despite efforts by EU leaders to cast it as a referendum on Greece’s place in the bloc.
“Come Monday, the Greek government will be at the negotiating table after the referendum, with better terms for the Greek people,” he added, standing between Greek and EU flags.
His comments came after Greece on Tuesday made a last-minute proposal for a third bailout worth nearly 30 billion euros ($33 billion) to follow the two rescue programs worth 240 billion euros cash-strapped Athens has received since 2010.
Frustrated eurozone finance ministers agreed Wednesday to wait until after the referendum before holding any more talks, saying there were “no grounds” for further discussions.
EU officials consider a “No” vote as a risky step toward a possible exit of Greece from the eurozone and the beginning of an unprecedented crisis for the bloc.