Date
24 November 2017
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis has ruled out further aid payments to Greece unless Greek reform proposals are first implemented. Photo: Bloomberg
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis has ruled out further aid payments to Greece unless Greek reform proposals are first implemented. Photo: Bloomberg

Greece eyes referendum to break deadlock with eurozone

Greece is planning a referendum on government policy amid signs eurozone finance ministers are set to withhold further aid to the embattled country.

The eurozone is widely expected to reject any more aid payments to Greece at a meeting in Brussels Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.

On Monday, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said he does not expect the group to make any decisions unless Greek reform proposals are first implemented.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greek reform plans are “far from” complete.

No disbursements are seen in March, Dijsselbloem, who also chairs the meetings of the currency bloc’s finance ministers, said.

Greek finance and defense ministers said that if creditors ask for anything not acceptable to the government, the people of Greece may have to decide on how to break the deadlock.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also signaled the referendum option is being considered.

“If we were to hold a referendum tomorrow with the question, ‘do you want your dignity or a continuation of this unworthy policy’, then everyone would choose dignity regardless of difficulties that would accompany that decision,” Tsipras told Der Spiegel Magazine.

Meanwhile, Greece’s finances are growing more desperate.

“I can only say that we have money to pay salaries and pensions of public employees,” Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Italy’s Il Corriere della Sera.

“For the rest we will see.”

Greece may call new elections or hold a referendum if European finance ministers reject the government’s reform proposals, Varoufakis said.

But a referendum would only be held if negotiations with creditors fail, spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said by telephone.

The government believes a solution will be found in negotiations with creditors, although it does not expect an aid tranche disbursement decision from tomorrow’s meeting, Sakellaridis said.

Any referendum is unlikely, and if held, it would approve or reject government policy, not consider Greece’s euro membership, he said.

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