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Greeks To Vote On Bailout On July 5


The prime minister of Greece called a snap referendum for Greeks to vote yes or no on the bailout deal that creditors have offered the country. He says he'll have no more talks with European leaders. This is a surprise decision that could shake the eurozone and beyond. The vote's supposed to take place on July 5, but Greece runs out of money before then and it could be headed for a messy default. Joanna Kakissis joins us on the line from Athens. Joanna, thanks for being with us.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Thank you for having me, Scott.

SIMON: Why did the prime minister call for a vote in just a few days?

KAKISSIS: Well, in a televised address to the nation after midnight last night, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said his government was asked to accept a credit proposal that will add, quote, "new, unbearable weight to the shoulders of the Greek people." He also said the lenders' measures are recessionary. They won't let the Greek economy grow, so the country will remain a debt colony, essentially in debt forever. But the prime minister didn't seem to want to take responsibility for rejecting the lenders' offer and sending Greece into default, so he asked the Greeks to speak. As Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis tweeted last night, democracy deserved a boost in Euro-related matters and we just delivered it.

SIMON: Position of the lenders, of course, is that Greece has already gone through billions of dollars and just gotten into a deeper dive. What could a default mean for Europe and the world?

KAKISSIS: Well, it's unclear what will happen because this is uncharted territory for Europe 'cause if a member state of the shared currency - the euro - defaults and has to exit, there's no precedent and no plan for it. And the blaming just continues. Both sides are to blame. The Greek government is inexperienced, disorganized and prone to populism, of course, rather than diplomacy. It's far better at slamming the eurozone and the IMF than negotiating with them. And as a result, European leaders seem to want to teach Greece a lesson to put the government in its place. But at the end of the day, the fallout will be terrible for everyone. As Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi put it, a eurozone exit would be a defeat for Europe.

SIMON: And consequences, certainly, here in the United States, too.

KAKISSIS: Yes, of course, but the reverberations will be felt everywhere. It's - again, it's an unprecedented event that no one has any plan or blueprint for.

SIMON: Joanna, the people of Greece have been living with a lot of economic depression over the past few years. Are they concerned about the consequences of default?

KAKISSIS: You know, many people are really scared. There have been reports of people lining up ATM machines around Athens. Though banks, it should be noted, at this point are expected to open on Monday. And this is all happening at the height of tourist season and that could really hurt the economy right now. Those Greeks who are scared know how terrible things will be if Greece reverts to the drachma, its previous currency. I mean, there will be years of instability, a very devalued currency, extremely high inflation, more poverty, even basic rationing of goods. And, of course, there will be isolation from Europe, and I think that's what Greeks fear the most.

SIMON: Joanna Kakissis in Athens, thanks so much.

KAKISSIS: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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