In a televised address on Sunday night, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the Eurogroup’s decision to not extend Greece’s programme and the subsequent ELA cap imposed by the European Central Bank (ECB) had forced the Bank of Greece to recommend capital controls and a bank holiday. At the same time, he assured Greeks that bank deposits, as well as wages and pensions, were secure.
“The refusal of a short extension and the attempt to cancel a supreme democratic process is an act of insult and utmost shame for the democratic traditions of Europe,” he said.
Denouncing the Eurogroup’s decision as an “unprecedented in European rights action of disputing a sovereign people’s right to democratic choice,” Tsipras announced that on Sunday he had again sent a request for a brief extension of the programme, this time addressed to European Council President Donald Tusk and the other 18 heads of state and government in the Eurozone, as well as the heads of the ECB, European Commission and European Parliament.
“I expect their immediate reply to a fundamental issue of democracy. They are the only ones that can as soon as possible, even tonight, overturn the Eurogroup’s decision and allow the ECB to restore the flow of liquidity to the banks,” he said.
He said the Eurogroup’s refusal to give a brief extension of Greece’s bailout programme so that a referendum on the creditors’ “ultimatum” could be held had led to the ECB’s decision not to raise the ELA ceiling for Greek banks.
“It is more than clear that this decision has no other goal apart from blackmailing the people’s will and preventing the smooth conduct of the referendum,” he said.
“They will not succeed, however. These actions will bring the precisely opposite result,” Tsipras said, firming the Greek people’s resolve to reject the “unacceptable memorandum proposals and the lenders’ ultimatums.”
Tsipras urged Greeks to stay calm and patient in the coming days, assuring them that bank deposits were absolutely secure, as was the payment of wages and pensions.
“Any difficulties that arise must be dealt with calmly and resolutely. The more calmly we face the difficulties, the more quickly they will be overcome and the milder their consequences will be,” he said.
“Remember: in these crucial hours… fear is our only fear. We must not let it defeat us. We will pull through. The dignity of the Greeks in the face of blackmail and injustice will send a message of hope and pride throughout Europe.”