Greeks vote in landmark referendum on debt deal


Athens, July 5 (IANS) Greek voters on Sunday began casting ballots in a landmark referendum on terms of agreement with creditors on the next deal with the country’s lenders.

According to the Greek ministry of internal affairs and administrative reform, about 8.5 million people are eligible to vote in the referendum. It will be considered valid if at least 40 percent of registered voters participate in the vote, TASS news agency reported.

Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said he hopes that the Greeks would vote for the draft agreement of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for settling the debt problem and its adoption by the Greek government.

“I hope that common sense will prevail because the Greek people know that it is not just the future of the euro which is in question. It concerns the future of Greece and their own future,” Schelling said.

“We have been making concessions to the Greeks for a long time and we are still extending our hand to them,” Schelling said, adding the EU would resume talks as soon as the Greek government states clearly what it really wants.

Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged the Greeks to vote against the creditor proposals for austerity reforms, thus throwing into question the country’s continuance in the eurozone.

According to Tsipras, the creditors’ proposals are clearly violating the pan-European rules and the right to employment, equality and dignity. He said that many partners have not wanted to reach an agreement with all the parties.

He urged the Greek people to say “no” to the proposals. That “no” vote would be the chief argument which the government will use as the basis for improving the parameters of the agreement during further consultations with the creditors.

The polling would determine if Greece would avert a looming disorderly default or exit the eurozone.

It will also decide whether to accept the debt draft deal with international creditors to restart financial aid to the country or to reject the lenders’ programme that requires Greeks to accept further austerity measures and economic reforms.

The IMF says the Greek debt load is unsustainable and Greece needs a debt relief in exchange for reforms and a new 50 billion euro ($5.5 billion) financial package until 2018 to stay afloat.

A day ahead of the referendum voting, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis accused Athens’ creditors of “terrorism”.

On Thursday, the Leftist leader in an interview said he was confident that the reforms-for-cash debt deal Greece has been seeking for five months with creditors will be reached within 48 hours after Sunday’s referendum, regardless of the result.

European leaders say a “No” vote could lead to Grexit — Greece’s exit from the eurozone.



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