BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) – Euro zone governments are hammering home a series of coordinated messages to Greece in hopes of persuading voters to disavow Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and vote “yes” to a debt deal with creditors on Sunday, EU officials and diplomats say.
Yet in doing so, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande risk sparking a backlash against foreign interference in a country where conspiracy theories about the machinations of outside powers have a rich history.
ATHENS (Reuters) – French President Francois Hollande made a last-ditch appeal on Monday to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to return to the negotiating table with creditors, saying only a few hours remained for a deal.
Athens shocked creditors by announcing on Saturday a July 5 referendum on the latest cash-for-reform proposal. It now has less than 48 hours to pay back 1.6 billion euros of IMF loans.
ATHENS (Reuters) – In a traditional cafe in a working-class neighborhood of Athens, 55-year-old musician Stelios Maragakis said he has the solution to Greece’s debt crisis: ditch the euro.
“We must return to the drachma. The only way to save Greece is the drachma,” he said, sipping from a small glass of spirit, Greek music sounding in the background.
ATHENS (Reuters) – Tourists exploring the antique sites of Athens on Monday said they weren’t sufficiently worried about Greece’s debt crisis to stock up on extra money, despite warnings by some travel groups that bank dispensing machines could shut.
But the bumpy bus rides past near-daily street protests were a reminder that they were visiting a country in trouble.
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Thursday the euro zone was dangerously close to accepting an “accident”, criticising other ministers who he said did not want to discuss his proposal to set up an automatic brake on the country’s public deficit.
It was still possible to reach a cash-for-reforms deal though time was running short, he said.
PARIS (Reuters) – France announced on Tuesday a set of measures to encourage small firms to hire by making labor rules more flexible and cutting costs, a move welcomed by business groups but condemned by some within the ruling Socialist party.
The package aims to tackle unemployment which, stuck above 10 percent, is a major challenge for President Francois Hollande. He has said he will not seek a second term in 2017 if unemployment has not dropped by then.
PARIS (Reuters) – Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said he was certain a deal would be reached between Greece and its creditors and a Greek exit from the euro zone would not happen.
He was speaking on the panel of a conference at the OECD think tank in Paris, where Portuguese Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque suggested negotiations could be concluded “today, tomorrow, very shortly”.
PARIS (Reuters) – Nicolas Sarkozy vs Francois Hollande: the re-match. With both having tightened their grips on their parties in recent days, a 2017 repeat of France’s 2012 presidential election now looks like the most likely scenario.
The snag is that three quarters of the French do not want either the current president or his predecessor to run again, polls show — a fact that could boost the protest vote for the far-right National Front while making for a low turnout that would give any mainstream victor a weak mandate for reforms.
LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain’s relationship with the European Union was “not good enough” after his foreign minister warned the bloc had to change its founding treaties and give London a meaty reform deal to keep it as a member.
Speaking in Paris on the first day of a whirlwind European tour to try to drum up support for EU reform, Cameron said he was confident he could get a settlement, something he has promised to secure before giving Britons an EU membership in-out referendum by the end of 2017.
PARIS (Reuters) – Socialist party members backed French President Francois Hollande’s policies in an internal party vote, boosting his chances of standing unopposed for a re-election ticket in 2017 despite months of tension over the government’s economic line.
With a large part of the vote counted, a broad-brush policy statement put forward by Hollande loyalists for the party’s annual congress won more than 60 percent of the vote, a party official told Reuters on Friday.