With European stock markets falling and banks closed in Greece, the president of the European Commission warns that “egotism” and “tactics” have hampered efforts to resolve the Greek crisis.
In an extraordinarily strongly worded intervention on the Greek crisis, Jean-Claude Juncker said he had “done everything I could have done” to find a fair deal for the Greek people and that “goodwill was thrown to the wind” by the actions of the Greek government at the weekend.
Playing one democracy against 18 others is not an attitude worthy of the great Greek nation. Jean-Claude Juncker
European financial markets, including the FTSE 100, fell sharply as they opened on Monday morning, amid fears that Greece could be on the verge of implosion.
In Greece, the public woke to shuttered banks after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras imposed capital controls. The crisis escalated on Monday after a breakdown in talks and the Greek government’s decision to hold a referendum.
Mr Juncker criticised Greece for its decision to hold a referendum, saying parties involved in negotiations had been “determined, patient, working together around the table to achieve the best possible agreement”.
“Our efforts were broken off unilaterally by the announcement of the referendum and the campaigning to so no to this agreement without really the whole truth being spoken,” he said.
“Playing one democracy against 18 others is not an attitude worthy of the great Greek nation.”
Mr Juncker said he felt “a little betrayed” and “particularly sad” by the events of the weekend, which led to capital controls being placed upon Greece.
“It is not a game of bluff,” he said. “There are no winners or losers. Either we are all winners or all losers.”
He also outlined the deal that he said had been on the table before the Greek authorities walked aay from the negotiating table on Friday evening – saying that there were to be no cuts to pensions and wages, and saying that the EuroGroup parties had been pushing for a socially fair deal.
Under the capital controls Greek banks have been shut. A €60 limit has been placed on withdrawals from cash machines.
Tuesday is also the deadline for the Greek government to pay back €1.6bn in International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans – with default triggering events that could lead to the country’s exit from the European single currency.
The referendum on bailout terms will be held on Sunday, and Mr Juncker urged Greeks to vote ‘yes’, Telling Greeks that they are “very close to my heart”, he warned them “not to commit suicide for fear of death”.
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Prime Minister Tsipras has sought to reassure the Greek people, telling them that their bank deposits, wage payments and pensions are safe.
However, as he announced the capital controls, he attacked the Eurogroup’s finance ministers and European Central Bank for attempting to “stifle the will of the Greek people.”
“They will not succeed,” he said. “The very opposite will occur: the Greek people will stand firm with even greater wilfulness.
“In the coming days, what’s needed is patience and composure.”