On Saturday, the Greek politician Panos Kammenos urged citizens to remain calm because the country banking system is not about to collapse, as rumors has it. But Greeks are increasingly nervous, and many of them have spent hours before an ATM to withdraw their money.
Mr. Kammenos’s appeal came hours after the Prime Minister announced that a national referendum would be kept next weekend on the bailout terms proposed by Greece’s foreign creditors.
But population is concerned that a cash-strapped government may impose restrictions in the amount they can withdraw from banks.
“Citizens should not be scared, there is no blackmail. The banks won’t shut, the ATMs will (have cash). All this is exaggeration,”
said Mr. Kammenos during a public interview.
Until now, Greeks had withdrawn billions of dollars from their bank accounts out of fear of capital control plans. The situation is tense especially because of the bailout deal Greece needs to accept to dodge default.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras proposed that the austerity terms of the deal should be subjected to a public vote. The proposal follows a session of failed negotiations with international creditors on Thursday.
Last week, Greek politicians declined to accept more austerity measures that would negatively impact the Greek’s pensions. The issue had been a controversial issue ever since the Syriza party came to power early this year.
On Thursday, the Greek Prime Minister deemed the terms of international creditors “blackmail” and disclosed the referendum later in the night. He argued Saturday that the terms are very harsh and will significantly affect the future of the country, so “the sovereign will of the Greek people” should have the last word on the issue.
The referendum is slated for June 5, and the government promised to bow before the will of their people. Greek lawmakers also said that their creditors’ demands were violating the European legislation along with the basic rights to dignity, work, and equality.The Prime Minister said that his country was humiliated and blackmailed during negotiations.
Greece’s major creditors are the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank and Germany. The country owes its lenders about $3.8 billion. So, politicians have thought of a last minute Icelandic default, i.e. to nationalize all banks and impose capital controls.
On Monday, however, they changed their mind and said that banks will function normally. On June 30, Greece must return to the IMF a $1.72 billion debt. But as there are no prospects of doing so, a first default is looming.
Image Source: World Buletin