Athens, June 30, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The real question of the referendum in Greece is “yes” or “no” to the euro underline unanimously the European leaders in their positions MOnday, while making clear that the “no” in the referendum means “no” to the euro.
Merkel: The Greek program expires tomorrow (Tuesday)
The Greek program expires Tuesday, Angela Merkel said after the meeting with the leaders of all political forces in Germany. As she explained, it is Greece’s right to proceed to a referendum, and our right to think what to do to protect ourselves, noting that the 18 eurozone countries have decided not to give an extension to the Greek program.
The German chancellor noted however that she remains open to new negotiations with Greece after the referendum Sunday, and stated that the outcome of the referendum is about the future of Greece in the eurozone.
“If the Greek government – after the referendum, for example – requires further negotiations, naturally we will not avoid it”, Merkel said.
For his part, the Vice-Minister and Minister of Economy of Germany, S. Gabriel, warned that a “no” in the referendum will be a vote in favor of leaving the euro.
Also, Merkel rejected the possibility of an extraordinary summit for Greece, saying that the president of the European Council Donald Tusk has not requested such a thing.
Merkel also made it clear that there is no intention of interfering or exerting pressure to the judgment of the “mature and proud Greek people”, while she pointed out that it was Greece which withdrawn from the negotiations.
Hollande: The referendum is a choice between the euro or a likely Grexit
The referendum is a choice between the euro or a likely Grexit, said the French President, Francois Hollande, after the extraordinary meeting of the French cabinet on Greece.
Hollande stressed that only a few hours have been left to try to reach an agreement with Greece, adding that it is a matter of the Greek government if it wants to return to the negotiations table.
“They left a few hours before the negotiations are concluded, especially as regards the extension of Greek support program”, Hollande said.
He reiterated that France is always available for renewed negotiations today or tomorrow. “An agreement is still possible today, while ‘tomorrow’ will depend on the response of the Greeks to the referendum”, he said.
The French President believes that “Greece belongs to the eurozone” but it is up to them to decide “whether to take the risk to leave”.
Separately he said that the French economy has nothing to fear from the consequences of the Greek crisis.
Renzi: The referendum is Euro against drachma
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was added to the voices that warn Greece that next Sunday it will vote to stay or not in the euro.
As the Italian prime minister wrote in his personal account on twitter, “The point is: greek referendum will not be a derby EU Commission vs Tsipras, but euro vs drachma. This is the choice”.
Juncker: There was no ultimatum, we did not ask for wage cuts
The Greek citizens need a clearer picture of what is at stake in the referendum, noted Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, at a press conference granted on the subject of Greece.
The European Commission President used dramatic tone in his speech, and attacked with spikes against the Greek side, focusing on the efforts made by himself, and the Commission to reach a solution.
Indeed, he said he feels “betrayed” by the announcement of the Greek government to hold a referendum, adding that “disagreements became too dramatic”.
He noted that even for him, the Greek exit from the euro has not been and never will be a choice. “I have worked on all the possibilities to allay Greek concerns and to conclude an agreement with the Greek authorities. I tried again and again to be with the side of Greek citizens. You know well that the Greek people are very close to my heart”.
Referring to the criticism against the executive body of the European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker said the European Commission does not deserve all the criticism that comes from the Greek government. “Other European countries also went through difficult paths. All governments took very difficult decisions”, he said.
He added that “Friday, we are determined to work for the best possible solution. Europe is good at finding compromises. We have heard of blackmail, take it or leave it and ultimatums. Who says that?”.
As he stated, there are 19 national republics within the eurozone. Not one against 18 or 18 against 1. “I am deeply saddened by what happened at the weekend. The plan we proposed never included cuts in pensions and wages. And no one has the right to give a different impression. The wage cuts were never on the table. We had agreed to reexamine the issue of collective bargaining. Our only request was for this to take place together with the institutions”, he noted.
He also stressed that “the Greeks should know that even their government agrees that the pension system needs urgent reform to be sustainable”.
He admitted that it is a demanding package, but fare. “This is not a silly austerity package. Some of the measures will affect the short term, but the package was much broader than fiscal measures”.
The Commission President also stressed that the Greek authorities have left the negotiations. “Unexpectedly, I must say. The Greek negotiators left the negotiating table at the worst time. An agreement could have released further assistance”.
Jean Claude Juncker stressed that “Dijsselbloem and I told Al. Tsipras that the measures to ensure a long-term debt sustainability, could be discussed in early autumn”.
And he stressed that “we really moved mountains, until the Greek authorities closed the door”.
He added that he has not made any new proposal on Monday. “What do the Greeks know about our flexibility and the details of our proposals?”.
The Greek people must know the truth, they must know what is on the table. I would advise the Greek government to tell the truth to the Greek citizens. Every Greek citizen deserves to know the whole story. From our side, the door is still open”, said the Commission President in his speech.
Jean-Claude Juncker said that Greece is a member of the European family and “I want this family to remain united”. He even called the Greeks to vote in favor of the proposal of the institutions in the referendum. “One does not have to commit suicide from fear of death”, he pointed out.
Juncker further stated that he had not been informed by Tsipras that he would announce a referendum. “I do not blame him though. I do not think it would be wise of me to blame the Greek government now, but I’m disappointed”.
Schultz: Good base for cooperation a “yes” in the referendum
The “yes” in the referendum by the Greek people is “a good basis for future cooperation”, said the European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
The referendum affects mainly the Greek people, but also the other Member States of the euro zone and the EU, Schulz said, adding that Sunday’s vote not only about the program but also for the stay or not in the eurozone.
Continuing, Schultz said that in a telephone conversation Monday with the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, highlighted that the referendum affects the entire eurozone.
Moreover, the President of the European Parliament said that the question of the referendum is an issue, as formally the existing Greek program will not be in force on Sunday. As he said, a way must be found to build a bridge over the four days from Tuesday that the program ends and Sunday. Although there is no legal solution to this issue, Schultz said, in critical situations we have to be creative.
He noted, finally, that the proposal of institutions does not include cuts in wages and pensions, or increase VAT to energy, pharmaceuticals or the medical field, while it also includes the Juncker package totaling EUR 35 billion to stimulate investment and employment in Greece.