Panic in Greece as vote looms
GREECE officially became the first developed country in the world to go into arrears and now looks set to be heading to a Grexit after missing a payment deadline to the International Monetary Fund.
The last country to be in this position was Zimbabwe in 2001 and more than a decade on it is still a pariah on world money markets.
The first immediate effect of the default was the loss of access to more than € 10 billion ($ A14.4 billion) to recapitalise banks.
Where that leaves the banks, most of which have remained shut since last weekend, is not clear. About 1000 banks did open briefly yesterday to assist pensioners who traditionally do not use ATM bank cards, and allowed them to withdraw € 120 each, double the daily cap placed on other savers through ATMs.
But some Greek islands have already reported they have run out of cash flows and numerous businesses across the country have already begun to refuse credit cards with “cash only” signs going up on shop windows.
Some petrol stations in Athens closed four hours early as stocks ran low due to overdemand from panicked citizens but many were expecting tanker deliveries today.
But the panic was still evident at ATMs with seemingly the entire population still trying to stock up on cash with queues snaking around the block in Athens at most machines.
The only bright spot for the rest of Europe was that the value of the euro did not change much against other currencies after the default, suggesting it was now a little more robust than previously thought.
Just hours before the midnight default deadline, the Greeks made a last- ditch effort to maintain the bailout program it has relied on for five years, with the move rejected by the eurozone as simply too little, too late.
Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras had already made it clear his Government would not be paying the € 1.6 billion repayment required to keep the bailout package, and his 11th- hour appeal for a stall on the default was seen more as an attempt to again convince his people Europe was at fault for the crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised that no discussions about Greece could happen before this Sunday’s referendum, where Greek voters are to be asked yes or no to remaining in the eurozone.
“Before the planned referendum is carried out, we will not negotiate over anything new,” she said yesterday.
The vote is being seen as yet another step by Greece to leave the EU; Russia has already said it is ready to form an alliance with Greece and financially assist the nation.
One of the founding fathers of the euro, former European Central Bank chief Otmar Issing, said Greece had played about with the fate of its people and the crisis now was clearly its own fault. THESE girls found a refreshing way to beat the heat as soaring temperatures swept across Europe.
Tennis players at Wimbledon, fasting Muslims and ailing religious pilgrims in Lourdes were among those most at risk as the blast of the major heatwave spread up through the continent.
With temperatures hitting 35C in London, tennis players and fans were set for a very sticky Wimbledon, with some reports saying play could be suspended if temperatures soared too high.
England declared a level 2 health alert, and authorities raised particular concern for Muslims fasting during daylight hours for Ramadan. Britain’s Network Rail ordered trains to go slow, fearful that railway tracks would buckle in the heat.
Meanwhile in France, where thermometers were set to reach almost 40C, the Government called for airconditioned public buildings to allow the public in for respite from the heat.
In Lourdes, a hotspot for millions of religious pilgrims hoping to be cured of illnesses, authorities cancelled a daily procession through the main esplanade, shifting the ceremony underground.
From Holland to Italy, governments warned of risks to older people, young children and those with serious illnesses.
For a continent unaccustomed to such warmth, the threats go beyond embarrassing wet patches on shirts and terrible body odour on commuter trains.
A 2003 heatwave caused 20,000 deaths above the normal death rate across Europe.
COLD COMFORTS: Girls frolic in a London fountain while cold treats were popular in Rome ( below).