EU Commission president heckled over Greek referendum comments
Ahead of the emergency euro summit in Brussels on Tuesday, the European Parliament held a session in Strasbourg on the pressing issue of the Greek crisis. Junker, a staunch critic of the current Greek government and its policies, delivered a speech saying that it was not clear what the Greeks voted on during the Sunday referendum as the question raised was not “legitimate.”
“The question that was put to the Greek people is about something that doesn’t exist,” he said.
He explained that their ‘No’ vote was concerning the bailout program measures that expired five days ahead of the plebiscite. The deadline for paying the IMF loan of 1.6 million euros was set for July 1.
"It's not a 'No' to Europe, I'm told. It's not a 'No' to the euro, I'm told. It cannot be a 'No' to the proposals of the institutions, because they were not on the table," he added.
He was heckled by several supporters of the Greek government’s stance in the talks with one of the MPs from UK’s Independence Party (UKIP), Ray Finch, shouting “‘No’ is the answer!”
Following the meeting, Finch told RT that his reaction was prompted by the EU officials “blackmailing” Athens.
“They were being bullied and blackmailed by Mr. Juncker and [European Parliament President Martin] Schulz and all the others,” he said.
“They were saying before the vote trying to terrify the Greek people to vote ‘Yes’. They were saying if you don’t vote ‘Yes’ then you’re out of the EU. That was the way they were going. When that plan didn’t work, now they are saying ‘Well, what were you voting about anyway?’
“The EU will not allow Greece to leave. They will give in. But the problem for them is as soon as they give in to Greece – and they will because Syriza won’t back down now – on the door knocking next morning will be Spain, Portugal and Ireland. And that’s the end of their project.”
During the parliament speech on Tuesday, Juncker stressed that he is against the ‘Grexit’ and “we must set aside our little egos – and my big ego too – and deal with the situation as we find it.”
"When European nations stop talking to each other, then we are heading for the end of the European Union," he added.
On Sunday the Greeks voted against EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands for further austerity cuts by a margin of 61 to 39 percent.
Europeans from countries also bearing the brunt of severe spending cuts have expressed support for the cash-strapped Greece saying that they would also vote ‘No’ if they had the chance.
“We could follow a similar path to get out of the crisis. Because even though they are saying that we are coming out of the crisis I do not see it,” a Madrid resident told RT.
“It’s a new chapter. Greeks are stronger and it also opens the door to other southern European countries for similar negotiations,” another Madrid resident said.
A Lisbon resident said: “I think they did well in not accepting because they can see from us, our country, the hardship that the people endure with the cuts.”
[EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article alleged that Jean-Claude Juncker called the recent referendum in Greece a “circus” and the people’s vote “irrelevant.” However, neither the transcript of the speech published at the European Commission's official website, nor the video of the session prove that such words have been uttered. We apologize for the mistake.]