Eurozone finance ministers rule out talks ahead of Greek referendum | News | DW | 02.07.2015
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Eurozone finance ministers rule out talks ahead of Greek referendum

Eurozone ministers have said there are "no grounds" for more discussions ahead of a referendum for the Greek people to decide on the terms of the latest bailout. However, a funding lifeline to Greece was extended.

Dutch Foreign Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the group of eurozone finance ministers known as the eurogroup, said on Wednesday that talks should not take place before the vote.

Dijsselbloem cited Athens' rejection of the previous proposals from Brussels - as well as the July 5 referendum - as grounds that precluded further negotiation.

"There will be no talks in the coming days, either at eurogroup level or between the Greek authorities and the institutions on proposals or financial arrangements," Dijsselbloem said.

In a televised address earlier on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras - who announced the referendum last Saturday - reiterated that citizens should vote "no" to the current terms on the table from creditors. He insisted it did not mean a "no" to the euro as Greece's currency.

"No does not mean rupture with Europe," but rather a return to European values, Tsipras said.

Ray of light from Frankfurt

There was positive news for Greece from the European Central Bank on Wednesday, as the banks's Governing Council decided not to pare back a funding lifeline currently allowing Greeks to withdraw money at the ATM and to receive pensions. Any tightening of the Emergency Liquidity Assistance ceiling would have forced Greece to lower its 60 euro-per-day limit on cash withdrawals.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis thanked the bank and its president, Mario Draghi, for the decision.

"This allows us to breathe," Varoufakis told state television. "It's a very positive move and a move of goodwill on the part of the European Central Bank," Varoufakis said.

'Dark moment for Europe'

Varoufakis said a deal might still be reached with creditors after Sunday's referendum. He blamed creditors for the country's banking closures.

"This is a very dark moment for Europe. They have closed our banks for the sole purpose of blackmailing what? Getting a 'Yes' vote on a non-sustainable solution that would be bad for Europe," he said in a live interview that was broadcast on state-run TV Wednesday.

Greece faces further debt repayments, notably on July 20 when Greek bonds held by the ECB and eurozone national central banks - worth some 3.5 billion euros - mature.

Greece defaulted on its 1.6-billion-euro ($1.8-billion) repayment to the IMF loan earlier this week, the first default to the Fund by an advanced economy. Greece's refusal of creditor's terms ahead of the deadline meant that Athens' European bailout also expired.

rc/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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