Greek Prime Minister full televised address on Wednesday

My fellow Greeks, We are at a critical juncture regarding the future of our country. Sunday`s referendum does not involve whether the country remains part of the euro zone or not. This is given and no one can dispute it. On Sunday we choose whether to accept a particular agreement or immediately seek a viable solution, given the popular verdict. In any case, I want to assure Greek people that the government’s firm intention is to reach an agreement with our partners on terms of sustainability and perspective. Already following our decision to call a referendum, better proposals, than those we had until Friday, regarding debt and its necessary restructuring were put on the table. We did not ignore them. We immediately submitted counterproposals asking for a viable solution and on this basis the Eurogroup was urgently convened yesterday and will again have discussions this afternoon. If there is a positive outcome, we will respond immediately. In any case, the Greek government remains at the table and it will stay to the end. It will be at the table on Monday as well, immediately after the referendum on better terms for the Greek people. Because the will of the people is much stronger than the will of a government. I wish to reiterate that democratic choice is at the core of European traditions. During very crucial moments of European history, nations reached crucial decisions through referenda. This happened in France and in many other countries that held a referendum regarding a European constitution. This happened in Ireland where a referendum temporarily abrogated the Treaty of Lisbon and led to renegotiation on better terms for Ireland. Unfortunately, in the case of Greece, different standards were invoked. I would never expect democratic Europe not to perceive the need to give space and time to a nation to choose its future in a sovereign way. The predominance of extreme conservative circles led to a decision to suffocate the country’s banks. The obvious goal was to extend to each citizen individually the blackmail being attempted on the government. It is really unacceptable in a Europe of solidarity and mutual respect to experience such scenes of shame. Banks closing precisely because the government decides to turn to the people for their verdict. And leading thousands of senior citizens to hardship for whom the government ensured that their pensions be deposited to their accounts, despite this financial asphyxia. All these people deserve an explanation. It is in order to protect your pensions that we have been fighting all these months. It is in order to protect your right to a decent pension and not some sort of tip. Proposals which they were blackmailing us to sign included catastrophic pension cuts. And we refused this. And this is why they are taking their revenge on us. The Greek government was given an ultimatum to implement the same prescription and all terms of the bailout that had not been implemented. Moreover, there were no provisions regarding debt or financing needs. The ultimatum was not accepted. The obvious choice was to turn to the people. And this is what we are doing. I am well aware that right now the sirens of destruction are raging. They blackmail you and call on you to vote yes to all measures asked by the creditors without any assurance of an exit from the crisis. They are calling on you to say yes to everything as in those days of parliamentary yes-men we left behind. They are calling on you to join them and become accomplices in endless bailouts. On the other hand, NO is not just a slogan. NO is a decisive step to a better agreement we look forward to signing as soon as the results on Sunday are in. It is the clear choice of the people as to how to live on the day after. NO does not mean a rupture with Europe, but a return to a Europe of values. NO means strong pressure in the direction of: A financially viable agreement foreseeing a solution to debt, not its increase, and movement away from undermining our effort to restore the Greek economy and society; A socially just agreement that will distribute burdens to those who can carry them and not only upon wage-earners and pensioners; An agreement, in other words, that will take the country in a short period of time to international markets so as to end unnecessary supervision; An agreement that will include those reforms that will effectively punish pockets of corruption which fed the political system all these years; An agreement that will deal with the humanitarian crisis creating, in other words, an overall security net for those on the margins today as a result of the policies implemented. My fellow Greeks, I am fully aware of the difficulties. I commit myself that I will do everything I can so that these difficulties be temporary. Some insist on linking the result of the referendum with whether the country stays in the euro. They claim that I have a secret plan, if NO is a majority, to take the country out of the European Union. They are telling lies intentionally. They are the ones who used to make such claims in the past. They are causing damage to the people and to Europe. After all, you are aware that a year ago I was a candidate for the presidency of the Commission in the European elections. At that time I addressed all Europeans as to why austerity policies must stop, as to why bailout memoranda are not the way out of the crisis. As to why the program implemented in Greece had failed. As to why Europe should stop acting undemocratically. Shortly after the Euro-elections, in January 2015, our people agreed on these projections. Unfortunately, some in Europe refuse to understand and accept this. Those who want Europe as a superficial union, with the IMF as an adhesive, have no vision for Europe. They are timid politicians who are unable to think as Europeans. Next to and beside them, the local political system, having led the country to bankruptcy, is now planning to throw the burden upon us who are trying to put a stop to disaster. Moreover, they are dreaming of their complete restoration. They were planning it even if we accepted the ultimatum, since they were publicly asking that an appointed prime minister implement it. They are planning it now as well when people are about to give their verdict. My fellow Greeks, I wish to thank you from the depth of my heart for the sober and cool-headed attitude you have consistently demonstrated during this difficult week. I wish to assure you that this situation will not continue for long. It will be temporary. Salaries and pensions will not get lost. The bank deposits of citizens who chose not to take their money away will not be lost to expediencies or blackmail. I personally assume the responsibility for a direct solution immediately after the democratic process has been completed. At the same time I call on you to join me in saying NO to memoranda prescriptions which destroy Europe. I call on you to respond positively to the perspective of a viable solution. Let us bring up a new page of democracy. And firm hopes for a better agreement. This is a responsibility to our parents, to our children, and to us. It is our duty to history. Thank you.