On the Edge of Default, Greece Requests New Bailout Deal
Hours before its deadline, Eurogroup finance ministers on Tuesday rejected a plea to extend the current loan agreement
With a midnight International Monetary Fund deadline, last-minute negotiations between international creditors and the Greek government are developing rapidly throughout the day. Check back for updates.
Update 3 PM EDT
Eurogroup finance ministers reportedly rejected Greece's last-ditch request for an extension on their existing loan, just hours before a €1.6bn is due to the IMF. The request for a new bailout program, however, will be considered during continued talks on Wednesday.
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According to AFP:
"Last deadline for Greece program extension was weekend. Due to parliamentary procedures, unable to extend program beyond today," Slovakia's Finance Minister Peter Kazimir wrote on Twitter following a conference call to discuss the last-minute proposal.
Finnish Finance Miniseter Alex Stubb said an extension was "not possible" and said a request for a new rescue programme with the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the EU's bailout vehicle, "is always dealt with through normal procedures."
Meanwhile, an estimated 22,000 Greeks are in the streets of Athens Tuesday evening for a pro-Euro rally, calling for a 'Yes' vote on the upcoming referendum. While some reports on the ground noted that the crowd appeared wealthier and less energetic than those who protested against the austerity agenda during Monday's rally, the Guardian's Helena Smith said that it was the largest demonstration she had seen in the years since the country's economic crisis began.
At the same time, international anti-austerity sympathizers have launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for Greece's debt. As of this writing, over €150k have been pledged.
Faced with imminent default, the Greek government on Tuesday sent a letter to European banks requesting a new two-year bailout deal in order to meet its looming debt obligations.
"As you are aware, the Republic faces urgent and pressing financial problems," states the letter, signed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and addressed to Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
Tsipras further requested that the country's current debt be "restructured and reprofiled... in order to ensure that Greece's debt becomes sustainable and viable over the long term," as well as a short-term extension of the existing loan until a new bailout agreement is in place to ensure that "a technical default is not triggered."
Amid the flurry of negotiations, Eurozone finance ministers are expected to hold a news conference at 8 PM Athens time (1 PM EDT).
In response to the new bailout request, German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as other European leaders have reportedly indicated that they won't consider the proposal until Sunday's referendum—during which the Greek people will either vote in favor of capitulating to the so-called Troika or, instead, back the leftist Syriza government's refusal to accept the lenders' austerity mandate, potentially ushering in a 'Grexit' from the European Union.
On Monday evening, tens of thousands gathered in Athens in a show of support for their government amid the tense international standoff. Despite the many hardships of living in an impoverished country, many within Greece see the referendum as an opportunity to reject capitalism, market-forces, and the powers that forced their country into its current predicament.
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"Sunday's referendum vote is not about one fiscal detail or another, a bad agreement or one that is less so," wrote Antonis Vradis on Monday. "In its essence, Sunday's question is about dignity and our lives from this point on. It is about the dignity to do away with the criminal gang-in-suits that has made even the otherwise despicable face of political power appear well-intended and innocent. And it is a question of whether we... want to continue living a life of excruciating uncertainty, never-ending ultimatums and emergencies, of humiliation and sorrow."
Throughout the day, the Guardian is hosting a live blog of ongoing developments.