Updated at 11:03 a.m. ET
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has reiterated his call for a “no” vote in Sunday’s referendum on conditions imposed by the nation’s creditors for a bailout. He insisted, despite warnings to the contrary, that a rejection of the proposals was not about membership in the eurozone.
“No means pressure for a viable economic agreement,” he said in a televised address to the nation.
He then explained his position in a series of tweets:
His comments today came hours after the International Monetary Fund said that Greece officially missed a loan payment of about $1.8 billion, and is in arrears.
Also today, in a letter to creditors, Tsipras said the government is prepared to accept most conditions imposed for a bailout.
“I am writing to inform you on the position of the Hellenic Republic towards the list of Prior Actions of the Staff Level Agreement as published on the European Commission website on June 28th 2015,” Tsipeas wrote in a letter today to the heads of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF. “The Hellenic Republic is prepared to accept this Staff Level Agreement subject to the following amendments, additions or clarifications.”
The exceptions Tsipras is seeking center on VAT reform; taxes on businesses, subsidies for farmers, military spending; pensions; and labor and product markets. But news reports suggest the letter contains elements eurozone ministers will find hard to accept.
Indeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to reject immediate talks with Greece, saying negotiations would have to wait until Sunday’s referendum. And, she said, the IMF would have to be part of any new talks with Athens. Greece had sought to exclude the institution from talks.
The Greek letter comes a day after Greece asked for a new bailout from the eurozone, the countries that use the euro currency, seeking a new two-year deal “for the full coverage of financial needs and at the same time restructuring of debt.”
Today’s developments come just days after talks between Greece and its creditors broke down over their proposals for Athens to receive an additional $8.17 billion, the latest tranche in several infusions that will go to repay the country’s outstanding loans. Greece’s creditors — the EC, the ECB and the IMF — want the country to raise taxes and cut spending on welfare.
Tsipras said he was putting the terms of a bailout to a July 5 vote and urged Greeks to vote “no,” saying Greece wouldn’t be allowed to leave the eurozone because “the cost would be too high.” European leaders have said a “no” vote is tantamount to Greeks choosing to leave the eurozone.
The failed negotiations were followed by the ECB halting an emergency credit line to Greek banks. Banks and ATMs in the country remained closed for the most part Wednesday for a third day after the government announced capital controls in response to the ECB’s move. But about 1,000 bank branches were open to help pensioners cash about $130 from their retirement checks.
The $1.8 billion Greece owes the IMF is just a tiny fraction of what the country owes. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that Greece owes the IMF, one of its many creditors, $26 billion. And this Wall Street Journal interactive explains what Greece owes its creditors and when.