‘No,’ says Greece

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS / NEWS - BY MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS AND DEREK GATOPOULOS

Greece faced an un­charted fu­ture as its in­te­rior min­istry pre­dicted Sun­day that more than 60 per cent of vot­ers in a hastily called ref­er­en­dum had re­jected cred­i­tors’ de­mands for more aus­ter­ity in ex­change for res­cue loans.

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras, who was gam­bling the fu­ture of his five-month-old left-wing gov­ern­ment on the vote, in­sisted that a “no” vote would strengthen his hand to ne­go­ti­ate a bet­ter deal with cred­i­tors, while a “yes” re­sult would mean ca­pit­u­lat­ing to their harsh de­mands.

The op­po­si­tion has ac­cused Tsipras of jeop­ar­diz­ing the coun­try’s mem­ber­ship in the 19-na­tion club that uses the euro and said a “yes” vote was about keep­ing the com­mon cur­rency.

With about a quar­ter of the votes counted Sun­day evening, the In­te­rior Min­istry is­sued an of­fi­cial pro­jec­tion that the “no” side would win hand­ily.

The vote was held amid bank­ing re­stric­tions im­posed last Mon­day to halt a bank run, with Greeks queu­ing up at ATMs across the coun­try to with­draw a max­i­mum 60 eu­ros per day. Banks have been shut all week, and it is un­cer­tain when they will re­open.

Gov­ern­ing left-wing Syriza party Eurodeputy Dim­itris Pa­padi­moulis said that “Greek peo­ple are prov­ing they want to re­main in Europe” as equal mem­bers “and not as a debt colony.” The ref­er­en­dum was Greece’s first in 41 years.

Pa­padi­moulis said the coun­try should wait for the of­fi­cial and fi­nal re­sults of Sun­day’s ref­er­en­dum, and called on his fel­low coun­try­men to re­main calm.

Min­is­ter of State Nikos Pa­pas, speak­ing on Al­pha tele­vi­sion, said it would be “wrong to link a ‘no’ re­sult to an exit from the eu­ro­zone. If a ‘no’ pre­vails that will help us get a bet­ter agree­ment.”

Tsipras’ high-stakes brinkman­ship with lenders from the eu­ro­zone coun­tries and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund re- sulted in Greece de­fault­ing on its debts this week and shut­ting down its banks to avoid their col­lapse. He called the ref­er­en­dum last week­end, giv­ing both sides just a week to cam­paign.

“To­day, democ­racy is de­feat­ing fear ... I am very op­ti­mistic,” Tsipras said ear­lier in the day af­ter vot­ing in in Athens.

Euro­pean of­fi­cials have openly urged Greeks to vote against the gov­ern­ment’s rec­om­men­da­tion.

“I hope peo­ple say ‘yes,’” Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Pres­i­dent Martin Schulz told Ger­man public ra­dio. “If af­ter the ref­er­en­dum, the ma­jor­ity is a ‘no,’ they will have to in­tro­duce another cur­rency be­cause the euro will no longer be avail­able for a means of pay­ment.”

As vot­ers flocked to polling sta­tions, large lines once again formed at ATMs.

Daniel Tsan­garidis, a 35-yearold Athens res­i­dent, said he didn’t ex­pect banks to re­open soon, de­spite a gov­ern­ment pledge that they would do so Tues­day.

“It’s not go­ing to hap­pen in the next 48 hours,” he said. “If the sit­u­a­tion im­proves and we can have a deal, then the banks will open.”

AP PHOTO

Sup­port­ers of the No vote re­act af­ter the first re­sults of the ref­er­en­dum at Syn­tagma square in Athens Sun­day.

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