The president of the European Commission has made a last-ditch offer of aid to Greece in an effort to head off a looming default. Meanwhile, Greece's finance minister has threatened legal action against the EU.
News agencies on Tuesday cited unnamed European Union and Greek government sources who said that Jean-Claude Juncker had offered to call an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers to approve an aid payment to Athens. According to the same sources, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was to provide written confirmation that he would accept the terms of the offer that he had rejected as unacceptable just days ago.
However, there was no indication that Tsipras was about to change his mind, just hours after he announced that Greece had no intention of making a 1.6-billion-euro ($1.8 billion) payment of its debt.
Speaking in an interview on public television station ERT on Monday, Tsipras also called on Greeks to vote no in Sunday's referendum on the last bailout offer from the creditors formerly known as the "troika," the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
"We ask you to reject it with all the might of your soul, with the greatest margin possible," Tsipras said, despite the fact that it wasn't even clear whether the offer was even still on the table. "The greater the participation and the rejection of this deal, the greater the possibility will be to restart the negotiations to set a course of logic and sustainability."
Tsipras also hinted that he could resign if Greek voters didn't comply with his wishes in the referendum that he called after walking away from the creditors' latest offer last weekend.
Greeks are currently faced with capital controls allowing them to withdraw just 60 euros a day from ATMs that still had cash several thousand demonstrated outside of the parliament building in Athens against the creditors' offer.
Threat of legal action
Meanwhile, in an interview with the British newspaper "The Telegraph" late on Monday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said that Athens was prepared to take the European Union to court if it moved to expel it from the eurozone, the group of countries that use the euro common currency.
"The EU treaties make no provision for euro exit and we refuse to accept it," Varoufakis said just hours before Athens was expected to fail to make a crucial 1.6-billion-euro ($1.8 billion) repayment on its financial bailout to the International Monetary Fund.
"We are taking advice and will certainly consider an injunction at the European Court of Justice. The EU treaties make no provision for [a] euro exit and we refuse to accept it. Our membership is not negotiable," he added.
Despite the intransigence of Greece's left-wing government in the face of its looming default, Juncker wasn't the only European leader who appeared reluctant to give up hope that a solution still could be found.
Following a crisis meeting in Berlin on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the German government stood ready to reopen talks with Greece, no matter what the outcome of Sunday's referendum is.
pfd/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)