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Greek exit from euro closer than ever

Monday, June 29, 2015 - 02:16

Greece's government is under pressure after a shock decision to hold a referendum hit markets and closed banks. Ciara Lee looks at how likely a Greek exit from the euro zone is now.

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This was no normal Monday morning for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. His country is in political and financial turmoil. Voted in on a pledge to end austerity - he stuck to his guns and rejected lenders' demands for tax increases and cuts to pensions. He's going to let voters decide what they want in a referendum on Sunday. So what happens now? These pensioners queueing outside banks aren't sure. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) PENSIONER, GEORGE, SAYING: "We know we will get our money back. There is no way we are going to lose it but the issue is when?" (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) PENSIONER, DIMITRIS, SAYING: "I need 20 euros to buy medicine tomorrow. Will I be able to? Lots of questions but not many answers - not even from the normally talkative finance minister as he arrived for work. Greece is due to pay back 1.6 billion euros of IMF loans on Tuesday, and the country's current bailout programme ends at the same time. It makes an exit from the currency union look more likely. But Nick Parsons from National Australia Bank still thinks investors are banking on them staying. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NICK PARSONS, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK, SAYING: "The hope in financial markets has got to be and must be reflected by the fact that a rally after the early sell-off on Monday, hope has got to be that it still can be avoided. And that the probability of it is still less than fifty percent." Chancellor Angela Merkel called a crisis meeting with political leaders in Germany. She'd tried to talk Tsipras out of calling a referendum. And Germany's EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger called the move "irresponsible." (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMANY'S EU COMMISSIONER, GUENTHER OETTINGER, SAYING: "They have manoeuvred themselves into a dead end with their negotiations. They turned down our offer. It's open what happens to the euro zone and their membership in it." French President Francois Hollande hasn't ruled out a deal. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE SAYING: "There are a few hours left before the negotiation is definitively closed, before the Greek aid programme can no longer be prolonged. I wish, if the Greeks, if their government, so decide, that talks resume." Despite the hardening of positions on both sides - there are plenty of people keen to keep the euro zone united, including those outside it. The United States joined a growing chorus warning all the main players to avoid a Greek exit at all costs.

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Greek exit from euro closer than ever

Monday, June 29, 2015 - 02:16