Queues form at banks to withdraw cash
EU ministers say door now closed on further Greece talks
European ministers effectively called timed on negotiations with the Greeks today after the Prime Minister called a surprise referendum and they refused to extend Tuesday’s deadline on repaying its debt.
Finance ministers gathered in Brussels for what was intended to a be a final round of talks to resolve the country’s debt crisis.
However, enthusiasm for continuing all but disappeared when Alexis Tsipras decided to reject the latest offer and put the matter in the hands of the people who elected him on an anti-austerity ticket earlier this year.
Mr Tsipras took ministers by surprise with his announcement which left the so-called Plan B – aimed at dealing with the aftermath of a Greek default – as the only plan on the table.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Reuters: “Clearly we can never rule out surprises with Greece, so there can always be hope. But none of my colleagues with whom I’ve already spoken see any possibilities for what we can now do.”
Finland’s Alexander Stubb called it “potentially a very sad day, specifically for the Greek people. I think with the announcement of this referendum we’re basically closing the door for any further negotiations.
“There is pretty much a consensus inside the Eurogroup that we cannot extend the programme as it stands and consequently I would argue that Plan B becomes Plan A.”
Security was tightened on the streets in Greece as reports came in of people queuing at cash dispensers to withdraw their money in expectation of limits being imposed. The Bank of Greece said it was making “huge efforts” to ensure the machines remained stocked.
The referendum will be held next Sunday.