Referendum call marks ‘dramatic twist’ in ongoing Greece saga
“That is a sad decision for Greece because it has closed the door for further talks where the door was still open in my mind,” Dijsselbloem said.
“We will hear from the Greek minister about whether all this is correct and then we will talk about the consequences that will have,” he added.
Christine Lagarde, the head of Greece’s most hard-line creditor, the IMF, said the lender would keep working on Greece’s economy despite the referendum.
“The purpose of what we’re doing is to actually restore the stability of the economy in Greece, this is what we’ll continue to do. We’ll continue to work,” Lagarde told reporters before joining the meeting.
“We have always shown a willingness towards flexibility and we will continue to do so,” she said.
Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said an extension of the program as it stands “is out of the question.”
“I think plan B is fast unraveling into plan A,” Stubb added, referring to potentially more drastic options for Greece, including those that could lead to an Athens exit from the euro.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Saturday the decision by Athens to hold a referendum on the future of its bailout “unilaterally” closed the door to more talks to end a five-month debt standoff with its creditors.
“The Greek government has, if I understand correctly, ended the negotiations unilaterally,” Schaeuble said as he arrived for talks with his eurozone counterparts.
With the referendum call, the agenda for the meeting of the 19-finance ministers is unclear.
A senior EU official had said before the referendum announcement that “either the Greeks are ready to discuss the latest proposals or the finance ministers will have to discuss plan B,” referring to more drastic options that could include an exit from the euro.
Questioned if eurozone ministers would discuss the current proposal, another official replied: “That we will see. A number of countries want to debate plan B.”
Greek authorities said that Tsipras had sent two of his closest aides to a key meeting with ECB head Mario Draghi, who for now is keeping the Greek banking system alive with vital cash.
Even before his government rejected the proposal, Tsipras said he would refuse any take-it-or-leaveit offers, after a two-day EU leaders’ summit dominated by the crisis.
The call for a referendum was a dramatic twist to a week-long series of talks to end the stand-off between the creditors and Tsipras’s leftist government, which has baulked at further reforms in exchange for cash.
Tsipras told Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on Friday that he could not understand the creditors’ “harsh” stance and asked for leeway.
But the eurozone’s two most powerful leaders insisted that it was “vital now to work towards a deal,” a source said.
Under their proposal, an immediate 1.8-billion-euro disbursement — profits from Greek bonds held by the European Central Bank — would be paid as soon as the Greek parliament approved laws reflecting the deal.
Later payments, including money to cover huge payments owed to the ECB this summer, would come from the EU’s firefighting rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, as well as cash currently dedicated to support Greece’s banks. Greece also wants debt written off as part of a solution to ending its current bailout, which expires on June 30.