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EU's Juncker 'Betrayed' Amid Criticism Over Greek Financial Crisis

© AFP 2021 / John ThysEuropean Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General after a meeting on June 16, 2015 at EU headquarters in Brussels.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General after a meeting on June 16, 2015 at EU headquarters in Brussels. - Sputnik International
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission has launched a blistering attack on his critics and a barely veiled swipe at Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over the breakdown in talks which have left Greece on the edge of financial collapse.

Global stock markets fell amid the news that the Greek financial system was in turmoil as banks closed their doors for a week ahead of a crucial referendum on the Greek bailout crisis. Millions of euros have been taken out of banks each day by Greeks keen to protect their money as crisis talks between Alexis Tsirpas' government and its creditors broke down.

Syriza's anti-austerity government has called for a referendum on whether or not to accept a reforms-for-cash deal with the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and other Eurozone creditors. This move has angered Greece's creditors.

However, Juncker launched a scathing attack on his critics saying: "We do not deserve this criticism."

He said the talks had broken down in acrimony as "good will was thrown to the wind amid egotism, tactical games, populist games took precedent over other aspects.

"After all my efforts, I feel a little betrayed because not enough consideration has been given to my personal efforts and the efforts of others […] There have been many rumours and that's really blocked out the voice of those who've worked tirelessly day and night.

"They have not spared any effort to keep the European family united. It's in the interests of the Greeks in particular. We hear reference to an ultimatum, take-it-or-leave it agreement. We've heard reference to blackmail. Where are these insults and threats coming from?"

He kept his most vitriolic language for comments made concerning Tsipras' decision to hold the referendum.

"Our efforts were broken off unilaterally by the announcement of the referendum and campaigning to say 'no' to this agreement, without the whole truth being spoke."

"Playing one democracy against 18 others [a reference to Greece being one of the 19 Eurozone countries] is not an attitude worthy of the great Greek nation," Juncker said.

"We don't deserve the criticism being leveled at us."

Juncker said the EU creditors were not proposing pension cuts: "This was never, ever on the table, and it is wrong to claim that it was." He said it was in the gift of Greece to propose other cuts than pensions.

Democratic Prerogative

Greece was plunged into a potential financial apocalypse after Saturday's meeting of the Eurogroup, which decided not to approve the Greek government's request for a few days' extension of the bailout program to give the Greek people a chance to decide by referendum on the institutions' latest ultimatum.

Tsipras said that decision:

"…Constitutes an unprecedented challenge to European affairs, an action that seeks to bar the right of a sovereign people to exercise their democratic prerogative. A high and sacred right: the expression of opinion."

The Eurogroup's decision prompted the European Central Bank to not increase liquidity to Greek banks, and forced the Bank of Greece to recommend that banks remain closed, as well as suggesting restrictive measures on withdrawals.

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