Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Greece Proceeds with Vote Plan as Creditors Rebuff Overture

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Greece Proceeds with Vote Plan as Creditors Rebuff Overture

Article excerpt

ATHENS, Greece * The Greek government vowed Wednesday to go ahead with plans to have the people decide whether they want more austerity measures in exchange for a rescue deal. Greece offered more concessions to its creditors, but was rebuffed eurozone finance ministers refused to negotiate any more aid until the referendum clears up what the country wants.

The moves came on a fast-paced day of zigs and zags that saw the Greek prime minister back off his earlier refusal to consider creditors' belt-tightening demands, yet hold firm on putting the measures to a popular vote.

The strategy was met with a cool response.

After a late-night teleconference, the 19 eurozone finance ministers announced they were putting any further talks on hold.

"Given the political situation, the rejection of the previous proposals, the referendum which will take place on Sunday, and the recommendation by the Greek government to vote 'no,' we see no grounds for further talks at this point," said Dutch Foreign Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the eurozone finance ministers' body known as the eurogroup.

Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was defiant, saying the referendum would go ahead as planned Sunday and again urging citizens to vote "no." In a televised address to the nation, he said a "no" result would not mean that Greece would have to leave the euro, as many European officials have argued.

Rather, Tsipras insisted, it would give the government a stronger negotiating position with creditors.

Greece is in financial limbo after its bailout program expired at midnight Tuesday, cutting it off from vital financing and pushing it one step closer to leaving the euro. It also became the first developed country to fail to repay a debt to the International Monetary Fund on time. The last country to miss an IMF payment was Zimbabwe in 2001. …

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