Greece is wedded to the euro
24 November, 2017
• STEPHEN Southam claims the Greeks want to leave the euro and that this is shown by the fact that in a referendum in July 2015 61 per cent voted to reject the terms of a bailout offered to Greece by the European Central Bank and other creditors (With referendums, things just don’t always work out as planned, November 17).
A report on the BBC website by Mark Lowen, dated July 2015, tells a different story. It is that Greece’s creditors offered it a harsh bailout, the Greek government called a referendum on whether the terms of the bailout should be accepted and urged their rejection.
As Mr Southam says, the “no” vote was 61 per cent. However, Greece’s membership of the euro was not an issue. The only issue was the bailout terms. Within a week of the referendum, the Greek government accepted the terms of the bailout.
The reason it did so is that before the referendum it believed, or at least hoped, that the bailout terms could be rejected but Greece could nevertheless remain in the euro. After the referendum the creditors made it clear that Greece could only remain in the eurozone if it accepted the bailout terms.
The Greek government decided that, harsh though the bailout terms were, the consequences of leaving the eurozone would be still less pleasant.
In Mr Lowen’s words: “Alexis Tsipras [the Prime Minister] was elected pledging to reverse budget cuts. But he was also voted in by vowing to keep Greece in the eurozone and that was one promise he could never have broken.”
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