|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-06-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Weekend News Bulletin
Sunday, June 28, 2015
 Greek parliament approves motion to hold referendum on July 5The Greek parliament approved in the early hours of Sunday a motion to hold a referendum on the proposals submitted by the institutions to the government on July 5.
Voting by roll call vote, 178 lawmakers approved the motion, 120 were against, while two were absent, Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou announced.
 Parliament president delivers Parliament's decision for referendum to President PavlopoulosParliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou delivered Parliament's decision to hold a referendum on the creditors' terms for financial assistance to Greece to President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos at dawn on Sunday morning.
Accepting Parliament's ruling, Pavlopoulos assured her that he will fully exercise his duties as laid out in the Constitution, especially with respect to article 44 on holding a referendum for a crucial national issue.
"It was ancient Greece that was the birthplace of direct democracy," he noted.
Konstantopoulou said she felt honoured to be the first Parliament president since the restoration of democracy in the country to sign a decision for holding a referendum, which she called a "supreme democratic process."
A later announcement said that an Act of Legislative Content being prepared by the government in order to bring forward the deadlines and proceed with preparations for holding the referendum may be signed by the president later on Sunday night.
 'Greece's course in Europe... must remain undisturbed,' President says, receiving ND leaderThe Greek people will once again prove that in the most crucial hour they display the "greatest maturity and determination," when they are called to cast their vote next Sunday, President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Sunday, while receiving main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras.
"The country's course in Europe and the Eurozone must remain undisturbed. This cannot happen without everyone's joint efforts, which is now more necessary than ever," he said, adding that the Greek people were "well aware what is at stake."
Samaras repeated that the defence of the country's place in Europe is a "red line" for his party and "a position that really supports the very existence of Greece."
The ND leader said he was aware that Pavlopoulos agrees with this position, "but I have an obligation to tell you that at this time the defence of this national position is become more and more difficult and the 'red line' is in immediate danger. This was the reason why I asked to see you today in order to discuss this."
 Systemic Stability Council ends; Announcements after cabinet meeting, Varoufakis saysThe decisions taken during a meeting of the Systemic Stability Council will be officially announced after the cabinet meeting that is currently underway has been briefed, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said late on Sunday, as he was leaving the Council meeting.
"We did good work," Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras said, adding that there was "very good cooperation" in the Council meeting, with complete accord and absolute identity of views.
In addition to Varoufakis, those participating in the council include Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani and Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas, Alternate Foreign Minister for International Economic Affairs Euclid Tsakalotos, Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras, the head of the Hellenic Banking Association and National Bank of Greece governor Louka Katseli and Piraeus Bank CEO Anthimos Thomopoulos.
Earlier, Varoufakis had told reporters that the government will "take whatever measures are needed so that there is no problem in Greeks' daily lives."
 Verhofstadt says Varoufakis, Eurogroup must 'come back to their senses'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vasilaki) The head of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) group in the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt on Sunday urged Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the rest of the Eurogroup "to come back to their senses" while proposing a three-month extension of the Greek programme in order to hammer out necessary reforms.
"A Grexit is a lose-lose situation. The creditors will lose their money and the Greek economy will collapse further," Verhofstadt said in an announcement, pointing out that a Grexit will also appear as a massive failure in preserving the common currency.
He said that Greece would need three months to work out a programme that will radicallly change Greece's political and economic system, combined with a structural solution for its debt.
Meanwhile, the head of the European People's Party (EPP) group Martin Weber railed at the "irresponsible behaviour" shown by the Greek government throughout the negotiations and said it was exclusively responsible for the failure to find any solution, while noting that Europe was still ready to help.
"The responsible politicians have made clear that the Eurozone cannot be blackmailed."
 PM Tsipras says BoG has asked for capital controls, stresses that bank deposits are safeIn 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."
 Meeting of ND, PASOK leaders ends without statementsA meeting between main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and opposition PASOK party leader Fofi Gennimata was concluded on Sunday evening, with neither making any statements afterward.
According to ANA-MPA sources, the meeting focused on the Act of Legislative Content on the holding of a referendum on July 5, with Samaras stressing that Greece's course in Europe must be preserved and Gennimata insisting that a polarising and divisive atmosphere must not be allowed to prevail in society.
 ND leader urges Greeks to stay calm, calls on PM to cancel referendumMain 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.
 PM Tsipras: 'Referendum will take place either our partners want it or not'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 exclusion of Finance Minister yanis Varoufakis by the second Eurogroup meeting earlier today, 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.
 SYRIZA says Greeks cannot be blackmailed, announces participation in Syntagma rallyRuling 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.
 Greek sources, EU Commission give differing accounts of events at EurogroupMeanwhile, government sources and the European Commission on Sunday continued to give differing accounts of events at the Eurogroup that led to a breakdown in the negotiations and the Greek government's decision to call a referendum.
Responding to the Commission's announcement that it had presented proposals with improved VAT rates, the Greek side insisted that Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem had demanded that Athens accept the institutions' proposal by Saturday, thus presenting a clear ultimatum.
Greek sources said the document released by the Commission was never given to the Greek government and that the only change is the VAT rate for hotels, which was lowered to 13 pct from the 23 pct proposed by creditors in the "ultimatum" document on Thursday morning.
This 'improved' offer essentially reverted back to a proposal presented by the institutions on Wednesday (23 pct VAT on restaurants/catering, 13 pct for hotels from July 1) that the Greek side had already rejected, the sources pointed out.
If there had been a change of stance, Greek sources insisted, this was not announced officially to the Greek government "and is a matter that concerns the Institutions."
Earlier, the European Commission released a draft of the proposals that the institutions' presented to Greek authorities on June 26, aiming at an agreement in the Eurogroup on June 27, with an announcement saying that it wanted to brief the Greek people on the latest proposals in order to ensure transparency.
The Commission said that the last proposal took into account the proposals submitted by Greece on June 8, 14, 22 and 25, as well as discussions held in the last week on a political and technical level.
"Discussions on this text were ongoing with the Greek authorities on Friday night in view of the Eurogroup of 27 June 2015. The understanding of all parties involved was that this Eurogroup meeting should achieve a comprehensive deal for Greece, one that would have included not just the measures to be jointly agreed, but would also have addressed future financing needs and the sustainability of the Greek debt. It also included support for a Commission-led package for a new start for jobs and growth in Greece, boosting recovery of and investment in the real economy, which was discussed and endorsed by the College of Commissioners on Wednesday 24 June 2015," the announcement said.
However, neither the final version of the text nor the comprehensive agreement could be finalised and presented to the Eurogroup due to the Greek side's decision to unilaterally break off the talks on Friday night, the Commission said.
 Main opposition attacks government over legislative act for referendumMain opposition New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis on Sunday levelled withering criticism at the government for using an Act of Legislative Content to push through measures that would allow a referendum to take place on July 5, accusing it of trampling on the constitution.
"What does it matter that there is a Constitution, that there are deadlines, that there are competent bodies. Who cares! All these are secondary for the most dangerous and irresponsible prime minister that this country has ever known," Karagounis said.
Electoral processes in democracies, he pointed out, allowed voters to make a decision in a calm frame of mind and in full possession of all the facts, otherwise elections were transformed into institutional blackmail.
He accused the government of "deciding to dismantle the state of law that was one of the great conquests of the post-junta era" and of using a legislative act to alter the fixed rules for conducting elections and referendums.
 Eurogroup announces it has recalled its financial support to GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni) - The Eurogroup announced on Saturday it recalled its financial support to Greece, noting that the Greek government has unilaterally broke off the negotiations with its lenders.
The full Eurogroup announcement is the following:
"Since the 20 February 2015 agreement of the Eurogroup on the extension of the current financial assistance arrangement, intensive negotiations have taken place between the institutions and the Greek authorities to achieve a successful conclusion of the review. Given the prolonged deadlock in negotiations and the urgency of the situation, institutions have put forward a comprehensive proposal on policy conditionality, making use of the given flexibility within the current arrangement.
Regrettably, despite efforts at all levels and full support of the Eurogroup, this proposal has been rejected by the Greek authorities who broke off the programme negotiations late on the 26 June unilaterally. The Eurogroup recalls the significant financial transfers and support provided to Greece over the last years. The Eurogroup has been open until the very last moment to further support the Greek people through a continued growth-oriented programme.
The Eurogroup takes note of the decision of the Greek government to put forward a proposal to call for a referendum, which is expected to take place on Sunday July 5, which is after the expiration of the programme period. The current financial assistance arrangement with Greece will expire on 30 June 2015, as well as all agreements related to the current Greek programme including the transfer by euro area Member States of SMP and ANFA equivalent profits.
The euro area authorities stand ready to do whatever is necessary to ensure financial stability of the euro area."
 G7 teleconference on Greece planned on Sunday, 'Handelsblatt' reportsBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) A teleconference between deputy ministers in G7 countries is expected to take place within the day, in order to brief non-EU governments on developments concerning the crisis in Greece, the German newspaper "Handelsblatt" reported on Sunday, citing a Eurozone source.
 Eurogroup: 18 Finance ministers announce measures to secure eurozone's integrityBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vasilaki) - The 18 eurozone finance ministers requested on Saturday measures to safeguard the integrity of the Eurozone and the Greek financial system, following their second meeting in Brussels which didn't include the Greek finance minister.
The full statement of the Eurogroup is the following:
"Ministers from eighteen euro area Member States and the institutions held an informal meeting to discuss the forthcoming expiration of the current EFSF financial arrangement with Greece, after the break-up of the negotiations with the Greek authorities.
The strengthening of EMU has been instrumental in helping the euro area to overcome the legacy of the financial crisis. We have notably advanced fiscal consolidation, implemented ambitious structural reforms, improved our fiscal and economic governance, deepened financial integration and established efficient firewalls. We are in a much stronger position than during the crisis.
Euro area Member States intend to make full use of all the instruments available to preserve the integrity and stability of the euro area. This will complement any actions the European Central Bank may take in full independence and in line with its mandate. EFSF and ESM remain the strong instruments with our full backing that they have always been.
We commit to take all necessary measures to further improve the resilience of our economies.
We stand ready to take decisive steps to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union.
We stress that the expiry of the EFSF financial arrangement with Greece, without immediate prospects of a follow-up arrangement, will require measures by the Greek authorities, with the technical assistance of the institutions, to safeguard the stability of the Greek financial system. The Eurogroup will monitor very closely the economic and financial situation in Greece and the Eurogroup stands ready to reconvene to take appropriate decisions where needed, in the interest of Greece as euro area member.
We stand ready to assist and support Greece and the Greek people as required, following the expiration of the EFSF financial arrangement.
[The statement is adopted by ministers from the euro area Member States, except Greece]."
 Eurogroup chief says Greek government's referendum decision a 'very negative surprise'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni) - Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem described on Saturday the Greek government's decision to abandon negotiations and to end all relevant talks with its lenders as a "very negative surprise."
The EU official noted that all Eurozone member-states expect Greece will convene this evening to determine the lines of defence against possible problems. He also insinuated that even if Greeks reject the government's proposal and votes in favour of the deal, negotiations will not be able to continue with the existing government considering it has clearly spoken against the lenders' proposals.
"The doors were open until last night," Dijsselbloem said, adding that the institutions operated in a spirit of flexibility and could accept changes with equivalent measures by the Greek side.
"The discussion is over for us," he explained, noting that Greece's current bailout programme expires on Tuesday night. Asked about the funding of Greek banks, Dijsselbloem said it is an issue for the ECB to handle, which operates independently.
 German Chancellor Merkel calls meeting with heads of parties over GreeceBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called an emergency meeting on Monday afternoon with the heads of Germany's political parties in Parliament in order to discuss the latest developments in Greece.
According to the German newspaper "Die Zeit" the meeting is not expected to result in decisions, while German government sources noted that the chancellor is "participating in the diplomacy on the crisis".
 Germany's Gabriel questions motives of Greek referendum, says it is linked to keeping euroBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) Every people have a right to hold a referendum, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told the German state television channel ZDF on Sunday. At the same time, he expressed the opinion that the Greek government's decision sought to push Europe into making more concessions.
He also noted that the question in the referendum was linked to the question of whether Greece should stay or leave the euro.
Gabriel questioned the usefulness of holding a referendum when the government was asking the people to reject an offer of assistance amounting to 35 billion euros.
"Mr. Tsipras could do that without his people. He clearly hopes that afterwards, more offers will come in. And this is, of course, mistaken. What I would consider fair is if the Greek people were voting on accepting or rejecting the proposal and at the same time, everyone knew that this was linked to the question: Do we stay in the euro, yes or no," Gabriel said.
 Remaining in eurozone is 'up to the Greeks' but became much more difficult, Schaeuble tells ZDFBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) It was now up to the Greeks whether they will remain in the Eurozone but things were looking increasingly difficult, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble indicated in an interview with Germany's ZDF state television late on Saturday.
"It is clear that with this policy of [Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras, which creates confusion, it became much more difficult," he said, commenting on the Greek prime minister's decision to call a referendum on the creditors' terms.
He said the Greek government "suddenly got up and left" the negotiating table, even though Tsipras had been with the other Eurozone leaders just the day before, and the German Chancellor and many others were make immense efforts for his country "this not only creates confusion but is also depressing."
Banking experts and the European Central Bank were watching the development of the situation in Greece until Monday with great concern, he said.
Schaeuble said that Greek government's decision to give a negative recommendation to accepting the creditors' proposals put the other governments in a very difficult position.
"Suppose that the Greek people vote against their government's recommendation. Then we say to our own people and our own Parliament 'now we will have faith that those responsible in Greece, in other words the government, will do the things they have committed to in this programme, which they have just recommended that their people don't accept.' This is not the basis for decisions at the expense of tax payers in other countries," Schaueble said.
According to the German finance minister, a Greek default will not put the German budget at risk, while the Eurozone must also make it convincing clear that it is stable in order to avoid risk.
In another interview with the channel ARD, he said there were no grounds for extending the current programme beyond its expiration on June 30 and predicted that Greece will face "a serious economic crisis" in the next few days. He pointed out that Greeks, in anticipation of this, had drawn large amounts in deposits in the last few days.
Schaeuble said that Tsipras had genuinely taken everyone by surprise with his decision to call a referendum, while he said that another summit on Greece "would have no point".
"Greece must assume its responsibilities. With this decision, it unilaterally left the negotiating table and, taking into account the process and the time, it is rather inconceivable," he said.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz, on his part, told ARD that the "door remains open" and expressed hope that a logical solution can be found and Greece can be saved.
"We have the opportunity for the Greek people to say 'yes' to this proposal next Sunday. The door remains open and will be open then," he said, expressing his belief that the majority of Greeks do not thing like its Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.
 European Council chief Tusk says Greece must stay in eurozoneThe president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said on Saturday Greece must remain in the Eurozone and added that he's in contact with state leaders to avoid a Greek exit from the monetary union.
"Greece is and should remain euro area member. In contact with leaders to ensure integrity of euro area of 19 countries," Tusk tweeted.
 EU's Moscovici says eurozone will have 19 countriesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vasilaki) - European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici said on Saturday that the "Eurozone will include 19 countries", following the end of the second meeting of Eurozone finance ministers.
 Agreement still possible, French PM says, urges Greek gov't to return to negotiationsPARIS (ANA-MPA/ O. Tsipira) An agreement was still possible, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview to French media on Sunday, urging the Greek government to return to the negotiating table.
"A deal is still possible, I invite the Greek government to come back to the negotiation table," Valls told Europe 1, Le Monde and iTELE in a joint interview. "I cannot resign myself to Greece leaving the eurozone. We must find a solution."
He also underlined his conviction that ECB funding to Greek banks should be continued, even if Greece misses the June 30 payment to the IMF.
"The European Central Bank is independent, but I don't doubt it will assume its responsibilities. I don't think it can cut off support, to put it another way," Valls said, adding that "This is not something that we want."
"It is the Greek people who are suffering now. Don't add to that," he pointed out, saying that it now behooved the ECB to independently assume its responsibilities to provide financial support over the coming days, when it would undoubtedly be needed.
The French prime minister also underlined that "we will do everything to keep Greece in the eurozone and this means respect to Greece and to democracy but also respect for European rules. We continue to believe, with Francois Hollande and Michel Sapin, that an agreement is still possible. I urge the Greek government to return to the negotiating table," he said.
Even though Europe might be able to overcome the Greek issue, Valls added, "the repercussions on a political and economic level are unknown to all."
Regarding the referendum on July 5, Valls warned that there was a real danger that a negative vote might lead to Greece's exit from the euro and the Greek government must take responsibility for its choices.
"What is at stake is staying in or exiting the euro zone," he underlined. "If there is a negative vote, there is a real risk of exiting the eurozone."
"The Greeks are a sovereign people. France did everything to find a solution, we played our role. The Greek government decided unilaterally to break off the negotiations.
 French FinMin Sapin: France will intervene any time to find solution in Greek negotiationsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis) - France is willing to intervene any time to help reach an agreement in the negotiations with Greece, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told journalists on Saturday, after the end of the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels.
What happened today is not Greece's exit from the Eurozone, Sapin noted, adding that France continues to insist Greece must stay in the Eurozone. He said a lot will depend on the result of the referendum, which creates however a problematic situation concerning Greece's stay in the Eurozone.
Sapin also said that negotiations with Greece must restart either before or after Tuesday.
 IMF chief: All institutions have shown flexibilityBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ Ch. Vassilaki) ---The IMF as well as the other institutions, namely the European Commission and the European Central Bank, have shown flexibility in order to adjust with the new reality in Greece, IMF head Christine Lagarde stated on Saturday.
"Our aim is the restoration of the stability in the Greek economy and the safeguarding of its financial independency as we did in Ireland and in Portugal. The success of these targets dictates a balance between the structural changes that will bring back growth and job creation of job positions as well as fiscal adjustment. Additionally, she said the financing of the debt comes into the picture. We will continue to work towards this target."
 Former IMF head Strauss-Kahn calls for Greek debt reliefPARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira) - Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn called on Greece's creditors to accept a nominal debt reduction and a temporary suspension of payments, in an article called "On learning from one's mistakes", which was posted on his Twitter page on Saturday.
"My proposal is the following: Greece should get no more new financing from the EU or the IMF but it should get a generous maturity extension and significant nominal debt reduction from the official sector," Strauss-Kahn wrote.
He said that with the unfavorable turn which negotiations between Greece and creditors are taking, as well as with the announcement of a referendum, "it is necessary to recall some truths in order to take a different direction. "
 British government urges Greeks to 'resolve current uncertainty'LONDON (ANA-MPA/ I. Karipidis) In a written response regarding the latest developments in Greece after the decision to hold a referendum on the creditors' terms for a bailout, the British government issued the following statement:
"We urge the people of Greece to resolve the current uncertainty, and ensure economic and financial stability across Europe.
"We have taken measures to increase our economic security so we can deal with risks like this from abroad, and we continue to take steps to prepare and protect ourselves from all eventualities".
 Austria's Faymann warns of 'Grexit' dangers, urges efforts for deal by TuesdayVIENNA (ANA-MPA/ D. Dimitrakoudis) In an interview with the Austrian newspaper "Osterreich" on Sunday, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann warned that Greece's exit from the euro could be disastrous for both the Greeks - who were not really to blame for anything - as well as the Eurozone.
Departing from the view held by other European leaders, Faymann disagreed that the Eurozone was prepared for a possible Grexit and that its repercussions would be controllable, warning that the consequences for Austria might be incalculable.
Talking to Austrian public radio on Saturday, the Austrian Chancellor had stressed the need to continue negotiations with Greece right up to the last minute and underlining the importance of making Greece's debt sustainable.
He also noted that further cuts to Greece's welfare system could not be made, noting that the situation in the country was one that the weaker members of society and especially those in the cities could not longer cope with.
Faymann stressed the need to find a solution by midnight on Tuesday. Otherwise, he said, no one could say what would be happening in three weeks time, making it imperative to use every opportunity, until the very last moment, to avoid the alternative scenarios that would make things much worse.
 Greece's situation 'on a razor's edge', Italian gov't officials sayROME (ANA-MPA/T. Andreadis-Syngelakis) - Italian government officials estimate that the whole situation with the Greek crisis is right now "on a razor's edge", according to sources.
The Italian government has repeatedly expressed the view that a political solution should have been found in the two summits that took place. However, they still believe that there is some small possibility of a solution to be found before the referendum on July 5.
According to sources, organisations of the Italian left are considering holding a symbolic referendum in several Italian cities on July 5 in support to the Greek government's initiative.
 Finance ministry denies that Varoufakis is recommending capital controlsFinance Minister Yanis Varoufakis at no time stated that the Greek government is in favour of imposing capital controls, a finance ministry press release said on Sunday.
"On the contrary, the minister has repeatedly stated that the government considers capital controls incompatible with the concept of monetary union," the announcement adds.
 Varoufakis: 'We will take every measure needed to prevent problems in Greeks daily lives'"We will take whatever measures are needed so that there is no problem in Greeks' daily lives," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Sunday, in a doorstep statement at the Greek finance ministry, as he arrived for a meeting of the Systemic Stability Council.
In addition to Varoufakis, those participating in the council include Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani and Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas, Alternate Foreign Minister for International Economic Affairs Euclid Tsakalotos, Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras, the head of the Hellenic Banking Association and National Bank of Greece governor Louka Katseli and Piraeus Bank CEO Anthimos Thomopoulos.
 Greek side still 'open to new proposals' from institutions, Varoufakis tells 'Bild'BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) The Greek government continues to be ready to negotiate, according to the headline of an interview given by Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to the German newspaper "Bild" on Sunday, in which he explains why Greece could not agree to the creditors' proposal and why the Greek government called a referendum.
Varoufakis also repeated a call to EU heads of state and government to take action, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel. According to Greece's finance minister, as the head of the most important country, Merkel held the "key" to a solution.
"I hope she uses it," he added.
On the decision to call a referendum and let the Greek people decide, Varoufakis noted:
"We couldn't assent to the proposal but neither could we simply reject it, given the importance of the issue for the future of Greece. Therefore, we decided to address the citizens, to present our own rejective position on this but to allow them the choice," he said.
The Greek side is "open to new proposals from the institutions," the finance minister added, noting that these could at any time be the topic of the referendum if they were "significantly better" than the previous proposals.
"Then we could at any time change our own recommendation and propose that the electorate vote in favour," he said, adding that the government is ready to negotiate until the voters are called to make a decision.
"The institutions have no orders to combine difficult reforms with a smart policy for debt restructuring. The heads of the EU in Brussels are not made for political initiatives," Varoufakis said.
Asked if Athens will present a new proposal, the Greek finance minister gave a negative reply:
"We have already put our thoughts on the table," he said, adding that it was now up to the institutions to "show good will."
Calling himself an "eternal optimist" concerning Europe's ability to find ways to overcome its disagreements, he nevertheless claimed that the institutions had been inflexible in the discussions held so far.
"It has always been said to Greece on the side of the creditors that we can have any deal we want - but only if it is exactly that reflected in the institutions' memorandum," he said.
Asked what will happen on July 1 when Greece's current programme expired without any agreement with the creditors, and whether this would involve capital controls or Grexit, Varoufakis replied:
"If Europe allows such a frightening development, simply in order to humiliate our government...then Europeans must ask themselves the question that the Italian prime minister raised over the spectacular failure on the issue of migrants: 'Do we want such a Europe?'"
 Varoufakis: Eurogroup's credibility permanently damaged by decision to reject extension of programmeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki) - The rejection by eurozone's finance ministers of a proposal to extend Greece's aid programme beyond June 30 until the country holds a referendum does permanent damage to the credibility of the Eurogroup as an institution, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told journalists after the meeting in Brussels was interrupted earlier on Saturday.
"The refusal of the Eurogroup today to endorse our request for an extension of this agreement for a few days, a couple of weeks, so as to allow the Greek people to deliver their verdict on the institutions' proposal ... will certainly damage the credibility of the Eurogroup as a democratic union of partner member-states and I'm very much afraid that this damage will be permanent," he said during a press conference.
Varoufakis also said that if there was an agreement and a deal by Tuesday, the Greek government would accept the deal adding that the creditors' proposal would not pass in the Parliament adding that the government does not have a mandate to take recessionary measures.
The minister also criticized the decision by Eurogroup chied Jeroen Dijsselbloem not to invite Greece to the second round of deliberations. "The decision not to be invited at the second round of the Eurogroup [meeting] is not a decision by Europe or our partners; it's a personal decision by Jeroen Dijssebloem," he noted.
Speaking to the press, he also explained the three reasons for which Greece rejected the institutions' proposal for a 5-month extension of the agreement. The first is that the package would redistribute the tax weights from the "haves" to the "have nots". The second is that the funding gap "was suffering from internal contradictions and the figures are not verified."
The third problem was that it didn't offer any prospect for the Greek economy and didn't ensure the crisis would be overcome, both for the economy and the relations between Greece and its partners.
Varoufakis also said that he told the 18 finance ministers that the Greek government resorted to a referendum because it didn't have a mandate to accept the proposal with those measures, or to reject it. "Because the government has a percentage a little over 40 pct and such a decision requires a minimum of 50+1."
Asked what will be the question on which Greeks will be called to decide upon, the minister said it would be "if you agree or disagree with the Greek government signing the agreement of the institutions." He added that the question could never be a "yes" or "No" to the euro, because there's no such provision in any Treaty.
Varoufakis also said the government is still fighting for an agreement.
 Foreign minister to have series of meetings with foreign ambassadors on MondayForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias has scheduled meetings with the ambassadors of EU member-states, as well as those of the United States, Russia, China and Israel on Monday.
The foreign minister will brief them on the current situation in Greece and discuss foreign policy issues.
The round of meetings will begin with the EU ambassadors at 10:30, followed by the U.S. Ambassador David Pearce at 13:00, Chinese Ambassador Xiaoli Zou at 14:00, Russian Ambassador Andrey M. Maslov at 15:00 and Israeli Ambassador Irit Ben-Abba at 16:00.
 Government spokesman: The referendum is not about Greece's currencyNext Sunday's referendum is not about whether Greece should remain in the euro but strictly on the proposal and terms that the creditors presented to Greece as an ultimatum, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said in an interview with the newspaper "Efimerida ton Syntakton".
"You can talk about ousting a country from the euro. But in practice this would have a very great cost for everyone. Therefore, we consider it certain that reason will prevail. The Greek people's proud 'no' will mark the continuation of the negotiations in order to arrive at a real and substantive solution, not an agreement that recycles the problems," he said.
He also explained what had prompted the government's decision to break off the negotiations:
"In the last session of the Eurogroup on Thursday, Greece was presented with a draft agreement by the institutions that had the form of an ultimatum. As was announced, the Greek government would have until Saturday to accept it. This essentially left no margins for any other choice, the presentation of the ultimatum made any further negotiations mere show. Since the negotiations were broken off with an ultimatum from the institutions, the government decided to do what should be self-evident in every democracy: to seek the opinion of the sovereign people," he said.
Asked whether the government will implement the measures proposed by the institutions if the reply in the referendum is 'yes', Sakellaridis said the prime minister had pledged to respect the outcome, whatever it might be:
"We have no other choice. When you ask for the people's opinion, then you must also respect it."
He also noted, in response to questions, that the government expects pressure on voters to mount as the date for the referendum drew nearer.
"The truth is that the propaganda of the known circles is expected to have an orgy until next Sunday, so as not to let the people decide without distractions. Those who are frightened by the opinion and free expression of the citizens will do everything in their power to raise obstacles to free will," he said.
 Main opposition leader Samaras: 'You failed dramatically and loudly Mr. Tsipras'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.
 Greece remains member of the eurozone, says EC VP DombrovskisBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ Ch. Vassilaki) -- European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis posted on his Twitter account on Saturday that "Greece is still member of the eurozone".
He also noted that "the Eurogroup is determined to secure the economic stability and to further strengthen the Eurozone."
 Interior minister Voutsis denies tweet posted in his name, says cyber-crime unit investigatingInterior Minister Nikos Voutsis on Sunday categorically denied the accuracy of a tweet posted in a twitter account using his name, denouncing it as part of the "dirty war" against the government and announcing that Greece's cyber-crime unit was already investigating to find whoever was responsible.
Posing as a new account set up by the minister, the account owner posted a fake tweet claiming that banks will not open on Monday, which the minister strenuously denied.
 MEP Glezos: Lenders' insistence to strangle the Greek people has failed"It is a crucial, but also a great moment," said historic member of the Left and MEP Manolis Glezos in a statement on the referendum.
In his statement posted at "Kinisi Energi Polites" website on Saturday, Glezos noted that "the lenders' insistent effort to strangle the Greek people failed" adding that the "call for referendum safeguards that the Greek citizens can decide for themselves and to respond to those that scheme against their future" adding that "it is a crucial but also a great moment...the referendum, a foremost democratic institution not only it does not divide but gives the first word to the people and to the popular authority and leaves aside those who want to decide themselves and not the people".
Concluding, Glezos noted "We are certain that the result of the referendum will offer the government the opportunity to implement its programme and to finally lead the country out of the crisis".
 Independent Greeks leader: The period of Greek people's devastation will end next week"Although some try to set the dilemma euro or drachma, the real dilemma is national dignity or give away our national sovereignty, the lowering of the flags. Greece has never lowered the flags," stated Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos upon his arrival on Saturday to the parliament.
"We have made huge efforts to reach an agreement. The other side, to every effort we made, sent the message that they will humiliate a whole nation and a country, that the will cancel Europe of the nation-states," said Kammenos and noted that "the answer will be given by the Greek people with their' no' on July 5.
The history of this country has been written with 'no'. The period of 'yes to all', the period of retreat, the period of Greek people's devastation ends next week".
 ANEL party's Terens Quick urges 'no' vote in referendumDeputy 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.
 Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis challenges PM to televised debateOpposition 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.
 Potami leader Theodorakis accuses government of causing divisions among GreeksPotami 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.
 Golden Dawn leader says is in favour of referendum, against the proposal of the institutionsGolden 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.
 PASOK leader Gennimata says no referendum is needed, calls for electionsThe 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.
 PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata appeals to EU leadership for initiatives to end crisisIn an appeal to Europe's leadership, and primarily Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the opposition PASOK party's new leader Fofi Gennimata on Sunday called for action that will allow an "honest, fair and promotive" compromise to end the current crisis.
"All the leaders, especially Mr. Tsipras, have a duty to rise to the occasion for Europe and for Greece, for the eurozone and our common currency the euro. It is clear that only a few hours and a few days remain for great initiatives, great decisions and great steps. It is clear that such an institutional development would cancel the extreme proposals, both on the side of the creditors and the polarising and divisive referendum, with its fraudulent and misleading dilemma."
Gennimata proposed that a Eurozone leaders' summit with Tsipras present should be held within the next hours or days, combined with an extension of the current programme that will allow "intensive and productive" negotiations to continue, during which time the ECB must continue ensuring the liquidity and stability of Greece's banking system.
She called on all sides to use the time creatively, "without groundless obsessions" and with the aim to reach a comprehensive agreement with terms, responsibilities and obligations that will give stability and prospects to Greece's economy within the eurozone.
Such a positive development, Gennimata added, would finally and irreversibly avert the prospect of a Grexit, which would be catastrophic for Greece and for Europe.
"Regardless, our position is non-negotiable and can be summarised as a big 'yes' to Europe and a big 'yes' to the euro," Gennimata said.
Her initiative was decided at a meeting held at PASOK's headquarters on Sunday to discuss the crucial recent political developments. Her appeal was attached to letters sent by PASOK's leader to all the leaders of European socialist and social-democrat parties participating in European governments and EU institutions.
 KKE urges voters not to back either choice in upcoming referendumIn 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.
 Former premier Simitis urges 'yes' vote in referendum, warns of 'catastrophic' alternativesFormer prime minister Costas Simitis, who was in power when Greece joined the euro area, on Sunday urged people to vote 'yes' in the upcoming referendum on July 5.
He criticised the government "for taking a step toward the exit from the euro in an unknown direction, for which it lacks both the knowledge and the preparation."
Simitis said the question raised in the referendum was misleading and, while no one wanted additional taxes and restraints, "there are no magical solutions".
"Solutions can only arise through consultation and cooperation with the countries participating in the eurozone. The government has an obligation to the Greek people, the majority of whom want the euro as a currency, to seek a solution here and now."
In the opposite case, he warned, "the sacrifices will be even greater than those it is trying to avert: a catastrophic recession will be inevitable, will last for years and have a huge cost for all."
 Greek composer Markopoulos says people's vote must work as catharsisGreeks should remain united and fearless in claiming a better future for themselves, Greek composer Giannis Markopoulos told ANA-MPA on Saturday, commenting on the referendum called by the government on the proposal of the institutions.
"Greek people must remain united and fearless in claiming a better tomorrow and impose respect on those who conspire against his future within the European Union," he said.
 ECB to maintain funding limit for Greek banks at 89 bln eurosThe European Central Bank on Sunday announced its decision to maintain the ceiling on provision of funding to Greek banks via Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) at the level agreed on Friday - 89 billion euros - without raising this further.
According to a statement released by the ECB, the ECB Governing Council said it would "work closely with the Bank of Greece to maintain financial stability" and "stands ready to reconsider its decision."
"We continue to work closely with the Bank of Greece and we strongly endorse the commitment of Member States in pledging to take action to address the fragilities of euro area economies," said ECB President Mario Draghi.
Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras, on his part, noted:
"The Bank of Greece, as a member of the Eurosystem, will take all measures necessary to ensure financial stability for Greek citizens in these difficult circumstances."
Following the ECB's decision, the focus is now on the meeting of Systemic Stability Council due to begin at the finance ministry shortly.
The full ECB statement is given below:
"The Governing Council of the European Central Bank today welcomed the commitment by ministers from euro area Member States to take all necessary measures to further improve the resilience of euro area economies and to stand ready to take decisive steps to strengthen Economic and Monetary Union.
Following the decision by the Greek authorities to hold a referendum and the nonprolongation of the EU adjustment programme for Greece, the Governing Council declared it will work closely with the Bank of Greece to maintain financial stability.
Given the current circumstances, the Governing Council decided to maintain the ceiling to the provision of emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) to Greek banks at the level decided on Friday (26 June 2015).
 The Governing Council stands ready to reconsider its decision.The ECB Governing Council is closely monitoring the situation in financial markets and the potential implications for the monetary policy stance and for the balance of risks to price stability in the euro area. The Governing Council is determined to use all the instruments available within its mandate."
 Fuel supply secure, Hellenic Petroleum CEO assures publicIn an announcement on Sunday, the head of Hellenic Petroleum Grigoris Stergioulis assured the public that the supply of fuel to the market was adequate to meet demands.
He stressed that ELPE refineries were operating normally to supply the needs of the market and that the refinery had fuel reserves to cover several months, while the supply of crude oil to the refineries was assured.
EKO and BP petrol stations were operating normally and their supply was fully secured, while all customers would be able to pay using all legal means, including cash and credit cards, he said.
Demand for fuel has been heightened since Saturday but the supply to petrol stations is going ahead as normal, sources in the fuel market said.
 Passenger boat runs aground on rocks near AiginaThe passenger ferry 'Alexandros', with 18 passengers and eight crew on board, on Sunday ran aground on a rocky outcrop in waters off the 'Tourlos' point on the island of Aigina, in the Saronic Gulf. All passengers are well and the craft is not taking on water, while no pollution of the water was reported.
A tug boat is now heading to the area in order to tow the boat to safety.
The "Alexandros" had set sail from Piraeus, bound for Agia Marina on Aigina.
...at a glance
 Athens HeadlinesAVGHI: No to blackmail and ultimatums. Referendum on 5th July
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Dignity
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: National tragedy
EPOCHI: No to authoritarianism and austerity
ETHNOS: A nightmare hangs over the country
KATHIMERINI: Dark clouds in the Attic sky
KONTRA NEWS: Death to austerity, we vote no
KYRIAKATIKI DIMOKRATIA: Storm warning
KYRIAKATIKOS RIZOSPASTIS: 'No' to both the creditors and the government's proposals for an agreement. Disengagement from the EU now.
PRIN: People's no to the EU and submission
PROTO THEMA: Euro and not drachma
REAL NEWS: High risk political move!
TO PARON: Blockade to 'Death'
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