Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke live on state TV on Wednesday, and the big takeaway was this: Sunday’s referendum is still on, and Greeks should vote “no” to the bailout proposals.
Tsipras’ latest letter to creditors leaked hours before the address, showing he was willing to accept most of the existing bailout proposals.
Before the address there had been speculation that Tsipras could cancel Sunday’s referendum, but Tsipras emphatically denied it in his speech, which lasted less than 5 minutes.
He said the vote was still on and Greeks should vote “no.”
Tsipras promised to protect Greeks’ deposits, pensions, and wages, and he said Syriza would find a solution to the crisis after Sunday’s vote.
He also hit out at Eurogroup leaders who had warned Sunday’s referendum could effectively be a vote on whether Greece stays in the eurozone. He said, “‘No’ does not mean rupture with Europe but a return to a Europe with values.”
He said he wouldn’t lead Greece out of the euro and those who were making the threats were “lying knowingly.”
Finally, he thanked the Greek people for their patience, saying, “Dear Greek people, I want to thank you from my heart for the coolness that you keep during the situation this week, and I assure you it will not go on for long.”
Greeks haven’t been keeping it that cool — gas stations are running out of fuel amid hoarding, banks are getting mobbed, and there have been mass demonstrations in the streets. But that’s politicians for you.
Here’s a summary of the speech as it happened:
— Tsipras says Europe should give “time and space” to Greeks
— The government is fighting to protect people’s pensions
— Tsipras says Sunday’s referendum is not about euro membership and calls for a ‘no’ vote on Sunday
— Says those who say Sunday’s referendum is about euro membership are “lying knowingly”
— Tsipras: “They … led the country to bankruptcy and are trying to put the blame on us”
— “Dear Greek people, I want to thank you from my heart for the coolness that you keep this week during the situation this week, and I assure you it will not go on for long”
— Tsipras says he will find immediate solutions to problems after Sunday’s referendum
— Tsipras says he has no intention to lead Greece out of the euro
— Tsipras says Greek deposits, pensions, and wages won’t be lost
— That’s it — Tsipras is gone, as quick as he appeared, in a speech lasting under 5 minutes