All banks in Greece will be closed on Monday, and maybe beyond, in order to avert a bank run following panic ATM withdrawals over the weekend.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras laid the blame with the European Central Bank for not providing emergency cash, saying:
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“It is now more than clear that this decision has no other aim than to blackmail the will of the Greek people and prevent the smooth democratic process of the referendum.”
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“(Rejection) of the Greek government’s request for a short extension of the programme was an unprecedented act by European standards, questioning the right of a sovereign people to decide,” he said.
“This decision led the ECB today to limit the liquidity available to Greek banks and forced the Greek central bank to suggest a bank holiday and restrictions on bank withdrawals,” he said, without giving any indication how long the bank closures would last.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) June 28, 2015
On Saturday, Tsipras called for a July 5 national referendum to decide the fate of a bailout package hammered out in negotiations led by Germany, the home of the ECB and the grouping’s strongest economy. EU finance ministers have rejected the surprise vote.
The premier’s remarks also come as the country’s opposition leader, Antonis Samaras, called for Tsipras to scrap the referendum and form a government of national unity.
A default on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.9 billion dollar) that comes due the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday could presage an exit from the Eurozone and a return to a heavily devalued version of Greece’s former currency, the drachma.
As Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens for NPR, “Some European leaders say the Greek government closed the door on negotiations by calling a referendum. Others are pushing for a compromise to preserve the euro.”
As The New York Times reports:
“The central bank’s 25-member governing council, convened by conference call, was discussing how and whether to extend an emergency line of credit — currently worth more than 85 billion euros, or $95 billion — that in recent weeks has kept Greek banks from collapsing.
“Analysts say that without these funds, Greek banks would not have sufficient money to provide to panicky savers if they opened on Monday. Without a continued flow of money to consumers and businesses, Greece’s struggling economy would probably lapse deeper into recession.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and the finance ministers of Germany and France, urging them to “find a solution that puts Greece on a path toward reform and recovery within the Eurozone,” according to a statement.