Greek PM Alexis Tsipras addressed the nation at 1 a.m. local Greek times, telling viewers that Greek voters should choose as to whether the list of policies the creditors presented in Brussels this week should be accepted.
The move was pure shock and awe. For his part Tsipras said he had informed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande about his decision. Tsipras has never hid the fact that he would call a referendum if negotiations failed…as they did.
Speaking from the prime minister’s residence for about five minutes, Tsipras said that the people must decide, free of any “blackmail”.
“For the last six months, the Greek government has led the fight to find a viable agreement that respect democracy. We were asked to implement austerity measures allowing the deregulation of the labor market, pension cuts and an increase in VAT on food products targeting the humiliation of an entire people.”
“This is a historic responsibility for us to decide on the future of the country. Over the coming days we will have to make decisions on which the lives of future generations will depend.”
“(Our creditors’) proposals, which clearly violate the European rules and the basic rights to work, equality and dignity show that the purpose of some of the partners and institutions was not a viable agreement for all parties, but possibly the humiliation of an entire people…But I personally pledge that I will respect the result of your democratic choice, whatever that may be.”
Ruling party SYRIZA approved the move.
Greeck Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said:
“If the Greek people say a big No, it is going to be impossible for those who wield power not to take notice unless democracy no longer exists.”
Is a referendum a risky strategy? You bet it is…it’s a nuclear move.
The biggest risk for Greece is the obvious bank run that Greek citizens will take part in as they rush to withdraw cash from ATMs and deposit accounts.