Cam­paign to sway Greek vote un­der­way

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD - BY ELENA BE­CA­TOROS THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The bat­tle for Greek votes en­tered full swing Thurs­day ahead of a cru­cial week­end ref­er­en­dum that could de­cide whether the coun­try falls out of the euro. For Greeks, par­tic­u­larly the el­derly, the daily strug­gle to get cash ground on in the face of un­cer­tainty.

Greece’s res­cue lenders have halted ne­go­ti­a­tions on a new fi­nan­cial aid pro­gram un­til af­ter the vote on whether to ac­cept re­forms the cred­i­tors pro­posed last week in ex­change for bailout loans.

That Greece will now need a third in­ter­na­tional bailout is a near cer­tainty. The In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, one of the coun­try’s cred­i­tors in its two bailouts so far, said Thurs­day that the coun­try needs debt re­lief and 50 bil­lion eu­ros ($56 bil­lion) in new fi­nanc­ing from Oc­to­ber through 2018.

The anal­y­sis was made be­fore Greece de­faulted on IMF loans Tues­day and closed its banks Mon­day. The out­look is worse now.

Debt re­lief has been one of the main de­mands of Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras’ gov­ern­ment, but it met with stren­u­ous re­sis­tance in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Greece’s cred­i­tors who, apart from the IMF, are other eu­ro­zone coun­tries and the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank.

But Tsipras has also been adamant he does not want any more bailouts in­volv­ing just loans — rather a dif­fer­ent “growth pact’’ with Europe that will al­low the econ­omy to emerge from a de­pres­sion.

Tsipras called the ref­er­en­dum for Sun­day ad­vo­cat­ing vot­ers re­ject cred­i­tor’s pro­pos­als, say­ing it would put the coun­try in a stronger ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion.

The idea was dis­missed by the head of the eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters’ group, Jeroen Di­js­sel­bloem.

“That sug­ges­tion is sim­ply wrong,’’ Di­js­sel­bloem told law­mak­ers in the Nether­lands.

Euro­pean of­fi­cials and the Greek op­po­si­tion have warned a “no’’ out­come Sun­day could be tan­ta­mount to a de­ci­sion to leave the euro.

“The con­se­quences are not the same if it’s a yes or no,’’ French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande said.

“If it’s the yes, even if it’s on the ba­sis of pro­pos­als that have al­ready ex­pired, ne­go­ti­a­tions can re­sume and I imag­ine be quickly con­cluded,’’ he said dur­ing a visit to Cotonou, Benin. “We are in some­thing of an un­known. It’s up to the Greeks to re­spond.’’

AP PHOTO

De­mon­stra­tors, sup­port­ing the yes vote for the up­com­ing ref­er­en­dum, ap­plaud dur­ing a rally in the north­ern Greek port city of Thes­sa­loniki Thurs­day.

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