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Greeks Withdraw Billions From Banks as Euro Crisis Talks Reach 'Breaking Point'

Greek citizens have withdrawn $4.54 billion from banks in the last week, while he deadline for the country's next debt repayment is Tuesday, June 30. Today's talks are decisive in resolving the crisis.
June 22, 2015, 12:51pm
Photo by Simela Pantzartzi/EPA

Europe is in crisis talks (again) today as Greece faces the risk of defaulting on its huge debts as early as next week, and time is rapidly running out to agree on the figures.

The deadline for Greece's next debt repayment is Tuesday, June 30, when 1.6 billion euros ($1.82bn) are due. Some remained optimistic that an agreement can be hammered out today after Greece submitted a package of proposals on Sunday night, though the wrong documents were initially sent to the bailout monitors.

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On Monday, however, Finland's Finance Minister Alexander Stubb was pessimistic about the chances of a breakthrough on Monday. "I think this day's going to be a non-entity I'm afraid," he told reporters as he arrived for talks with his eurozone counterparts. "I don't foresee a breakthrough today," he said.

His Irish counterpart, Michael Noonan, echoed his sentiments, saying he has "very low expectations for a deal today."

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the Eurogroup in Brussels, Belgium.

Later on Monday, eurozone leaders are holding an emergency meeting to find an agreement on the conditions for more loans, in an attempt to stop the country from defaulting and falling out of the currency union.

The talks have dragged on for months and will reach a breaking point this week, with the country facing a debt repayment next Tuesday it cannot afford without more loans or deals. Worried Greeks, meanwhile, are pulling money out of banks in growing amounts.

Meanwhile, Greek citizens seem to be heading to the banks — with reports emerging that about 4bn euros ($4.54bn) were withdrawn from bank accounts last week.

"Everyone's going [to the banks] to take money," Yannis Nikolopoulos said in Athens. He said people are taking "some money to have at home for 10, 15 days — say 1,000 euros, 500 euros — because if the banks shut it'll be a problem to go shopping and that sort of thing."

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He said that a deal between Greece and its creditors "is mandatory at all costs, otherwise we're doomed."

Related: The Dangers of the Grexit

Ahead of the meeting, Tsipras, leader of the Syriza party, made new proposals on what economic reforms and cuts his country would accept in exchange for the loans. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker acknowledged that the proposals were a sign of progress but warned "we are not yet there."

After this news, shares in European companies increased in value and Greece's stock market jumped nearly seven percent

Heading into Monday's meeting, Tsipras said that after four months of slow and unsuccessful negotiations that put the global financial system on edge it was "time for a substantial and viable solution."

No details of the proposal were made public, but investors were hopeful that it represented a long-awaited compromise.

To support Greek banks in the face of growing money withdrawals, the ECB increased the amount of emergency credit it allows the banks to draw on to remain afloat, a banking official said.

The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the ECB decision had not been made public, said the ECB remains on call in the coming hours and days to revise the amount of credit to Greek banks, should that be necessary

Related: Greek PM Says the Ball Is Now in Europe's Court as Time Runs Out to Avoid Default

Vassiliki Papanagiotou, a lawyer in Athens, urged "prudence on both sides," warning that "otherwise Greece will collapse."

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Over the past weeks, the international creditors have often complained that detailed Greek proposals on what kind of reforms they would implement to secure the international bailout have been too slow to come and far too vague.

Since coming to power in January, the Syriza-led Greek government has refused to make more budget austerity measures, which it blames for devastating the economy.

About 5,000 people attended a pro-government rally in central Athens Sunday night. Pro-EU forces will gather Monday evening outside the Greek Parliament.

Related: Young Greeks Hope a Syriza Victory in Sunday's General Election Will Save Their Lost Generation

The Associated Press contributed to this report.