Greece’s left-wing government has suggested it will resign if it fails to get its way in Sunday’s make-or-break referendum that could decide the country’s financial future.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said the government “may very well” quit, in a radio interview broadcast by Australia’s ABC network on Thursday, in which he also said the country was “on a war footing” to ensure the rushed referendum happens in time.
Varoufakis also told Bloomberg TV in another interview on Thursday that he would not sign any deal with creditors without any reference to a restructuring of Greece’s debt burden.
“I prefer to cut my arm off,” he told Bloomberg TV, in an interview in which he also said he would personally resign if the “Yes” campaign won.
Varoufakis claimed Greece was being treated as a “debt colony” that didn’t have any rights.
However, he expected a “No” vote and that he and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be around on Monday “to forge a mutually beneficial agreement with rest of Europe”.
Greece’s international creditors have stepped back to watch the outcome of Sunday’s referendum before resuming any negotiations.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Europe could “calmly” await the outcome of a referendum called by Tsipras for Sunday on bailout terms.
European officials and Greek opposition parties have been adamant that a “No” vote on Sunday will mean Greece will leave the euro and possibly even the EU.
The country defaulted on an IMF payment late on Tuesday (22:00GMT) that cut off Athens from vital bailout financing.
Prime Minister Tsipras, in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, urged Greeks to vote “No” to the austerity measures demanded by creditors in order to win a better deal, saying that the vote was not about staying in the eurozone.
Earlier, in a letter sent to the heads of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and European Central Bank, Tsipras said that Athens could accept their bailout offer if some conditions were changed.
Tsipras said in his public address that Greece would continue to negotiate with its international creditors and insisted that Athens wanted to stay in the eurozone.
In exchange for the conditional acceptance, he asked for a 29 billion euro ($32bn) loan to cover all its debt service payments due in the next two years. The conditions relate to pensions reform, sales taxes, and reduced military spending.
Meanwhile, ordinary Greeks have been left in financial limbo after capital controls were imposed this week to stem a bank run. They have been reduced to 60 euros ($66) daily ATM withdrawal caps, adding hardship to lives already ground down by years of austerity.
Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips, reporting from Athens, said many pro-EU protesters put the blame for Greece’s predicament on Tsipras.
“They say he’s playing a dangerous position and putting his party’s interests above his country,” Phillips said.