Greece will hold a referendum on July 5 over the bailout terms that are imposed by its Western lenders, including the European Central Bank (ECB), the EU Commission and International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced on a late Friday address to the Greek nation.
"The people must decide free of any blackmail...the referendum will take place on July 5," Tsipras said in a televised address to his people.
Tsipras’ move to go on referendum just came ahead of a critical meeting on Saturday between Athens and Eurogroup negotiators, including the ECB, IMF, as well as eurozone finance ministers.
Tsipras stated that his people will decide on Greece’s financial future on July 5 by voting whether they accept the outcomes of the bailout negotiations which will be taken in Brussels on Saturday due June 30.
"This is a historic responsibility that now appears for us to decide the future of the country... in the coming days we will have to take decisions upon which future generations will depend," said Tsipras.
The Greek PM claimed that the proposal imposed by the Western creditors had heaped "unbearable burdens" on the Greek and urged his people to give a "sound response" to the "ultimatum" given by the EU.
"These proposals, which clearly violate the European rules and the basic rights to work, equality and dignity show that the purpose of some of the partners and institutions was not a viable agreement for all parties,..." Tsipras said.
The bailout talks between the parties on Friday ended without yielding an agreement as the closing June 30 deadline put the parties under pressure for which the Westerners delivered an ultimatum to Athens.
The international creditors warned of Greece once more on the necessity of sealing a deal as soon as possible at this weekend to avoid an IMF default on early next week.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel admonished Greece on Friday not to waste an "extraordinarily generous" offer, but Tsipras reiterated that under those conditions they were not able to commit an agreement with the West.
"We were asked to implement austerity measures... allowing the deregulation of the labour market, pension cuts, and an increase in VAT on food products, targeting the humiliation of an entire people," he added.
When Tsipras demanded a leeway to unlock the stranded talks with Merkel and French President François Hollande on Friday, the two most powerful EU leaders insisted that it was "vital now to work towards a deal" on Saturday.
The Greek PM stated that he will ask for an extension of its bailout agreement since the Greek people will vote a few days after the final deadline by adding that the parliament in Athens will convene on Saturday to approve the government's decision to call for a referendum regarding the bailout conditions.
Meanwhile, the Greek opposition parties harshly criticised Tsipras and the Syriza government as they believe the referendum would mean a “yes” or “no” to the EU membership as well as eurozone currency union.
"European identity is an accomplishment of Greece, and New Democracy is clearly sided with democracy and Europe," the former Greek PM and leader of conservative New Democracy Party, Antonis Samaras, said in a statement.
"Tsipras brought the country to a total deadlock. Between an unacceptable agreement and a euro exit," Samaras said and added that the proposed referendum would be effectively a "yes" or "no" to European membership.
However, Greece Socialist Party, PASOK, the junior partner in the previous coalition government, also called Tsipras' resignation after the PM announced bailout referendum as he returned from Brussels on late Friday.
"Since Mr Tsipras is unable to take responsible decisions, he ought to resign and let citizens vote for their future via elections," PASOK's leader Fofi Gennimata said in a statement.
Greece is heavily indebted to the EU and the IMF, almost 240 billion euros, since the eurozone economic crisis seriously hit the country’s economy from 2009 to the present.
Athens has been negotiating with the IMF and the ECB, over the past four months about the release of some 7.2 billion euros in aid.
But the parties failed to agree on long-standing debt negotiations last week, for which the EU blamed on Athens’ “upbeat” attitude during the talks.
The EU said Greece was able to offer anything new to secure the funding it needs to repay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF, a setback which could lead Athens’ debt default, hereby, threatens its future in the eurozone.