EU commissioner chief Jean-Claude Juncker thinks a “no” vote in Sunday’s Greek bailout referendum would be akin to the nation “commit[ing] suicide.”
At a press conference in Brussels today he urged Greeks to vote “yes” in the July 5 referendum, saying: “You shouldn’t commit suicide out of fear of death.”
On Friday Greece announced shock plans for a referendum on July 5 over the current bailout plans. The vote could ultimately decide whether Greece stays in the eurozone.
Juncker today put his side of the story on the breakdown of talks. He did his best to make out that the EU was jilted by the Greeks, telling reporters: “We really moved mountains until the very last minute when Greek authorities closed the door.
“There has never been an ultimatum of a take-it-or-leave-it approach. I have done everything that can be done to facilitate an agreement on process and on substance.”
Juncker claims Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras forced the rift, saying: “The Greek authorities walked away from the negotiating table, unexpectedly I have to say, on Friday. The fact of our Greek colleagues leaving the negotiating table happened at the worst moment.”
“Other European countries went through very difficult times. Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia. All Government’s took very difficult decisions. Some of them paid a very high political price for their solidarity and financial support to help the most vulnerable countries.”
Juncker also wasn’t pulling his punches on the referendum.
He said: “The Greek people have to know the truth, they have to know all the elements of the deal that was on the table, all the negotiations we went through. It would be advisable for the Greek government to tell the people the truth, instead of simplifying its own message. You know, democracy.
“The Greek democracy has the absolute right to put this questions to a referendum. But every citizen deserves the whole story and the truth. They have to know that on our side the door is still open.”
The EU Commissioner says Tspiras is unfairly painting the current bailout offer in a negative light. He said: “This is not a stupid austerity package. There are no wage cuts or pension cuts and it creates more social fairness.”
He added: “Even the Greek government knows that the pension system urgently needs reform to be sustainable. They know that.”
Juncker said he felt “betrayed” by the “egotism” of the Greeks and urged Greek citizens to vote “yes” in Sunday’s referendum. He appealed directly to Greeks themselves, saying: “The Greek people are very close to my heart. This is not a lip paying service. For me Greece’s exit from the Eurozone has never be and will never be an option.”
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