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Greek Lawmakers Approve Bailout Referendum


People line up for ATMs at a bank in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, June 27, 2015.

The Greek Parliament voted late Saturday to accept Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ call for a referendum July 5 on proposed reforms needed to get bailout funds.

Tsipras issued a defiant call to Greeks to reject what he called an "insulting" bailout offer from foreign creditors.

"The day of truth is coming for the creditors, the time when they will see that Greece will not surrender, that Greece is not a game that has ended," he said in an address to Parliament laced with references to democracy and national dignity.

"I am certain that the Greek people will rise to the historical circumstances and issue a resounding 'No' to the ultimatum," he said as he wound up the debate ahead of the vote in Parliament.

Greek authorities on Friday had unilaterally ended negotiations aimed at extending financial assistance that's set to expire Tuesday and called for the referendum on proposed reforms.

On Saturday, eurozone ministers then refused to extend the bailout program. Eurogroup members, minus Greece, said in a joint statement that "euro area authorities stand ready to do whatever is necessary to ensure financial stability of the euro area.”

The European Central Bank is set to meet on Sunday amid fears that Greece's banks will be unable to open Monday, while Germany said the eurozone would do "everything" to protect contagion through the single currency.

Greece needs an $8 billion installment of an EU economic bailout to repay nearly $2 billion in loans to the International Monetary Fund by Tuesday.

Greek lawmakers attend an emergency parliament session for the government’s proposed referendum in Athens, June 27, 2015.
Greek lawmakers attend an emergency parliament session for the government’s proposed referendum in Athens, June 27, 2015.

Former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis broke a longstanding silence and severely criticized the government's "foolish choice."

"The nation's most vital interests demand that the country remains at the heart of Europe. The EU's actual shortcomings do not, in any way, negate this," Karamanlis said. " ... Foolish choices that undermine this principle push the country to adventures, with unpredictable and possibly irreversible consequences."

Across the country, massive lines formed at ATMs as people tried to get cash, fearing that banks would not open Monday and that the government could impose withdrawal limits to keep deposits in the country.

The Bank of Greece assured, in a statement Saturday afternoon, that the flow of cash to ATMs will not be interrupted.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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