Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calls a referendum on austerity demands from foreign creditors to break deadlock. Yiming Woo reports.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calls a referendum on July 5th on bailout demands, after a week of talks in Brussels that seemed to go nowhere. The government has resisted austerity measures viewed by its lenders as essential to balance its public finances and make its economy more competitive. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "It was asked of the Greek government to accept a proposal that puts new heavy burdens on the Greek people, that undermines the growth of Greek society and its economy, that not only maintains uncertainty but also increases the social inequalities." Government ministers say the referendum will let the people decide. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS MINISTER, GEORGE KATROUGALOS, SAYING: "It is now for the Greek people to talk and to decide and so this is also a big moment for the democracy in Europe. The people in Europe must have a say for the economic policies, because there is not just one economic mix. Otherwise why have elections in Europe?" The euro zone offered to release billions in frozen aid, if Greece accepted and implemented pension and tax reforms. Without the bailout funds, Athens is due to default on about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in repayments to the International Monetary Fund. It will push Greece closer to being forced out of the euro.