Greek referendum ‘threatens return to civil war’

Supporters of a Yes vote demonstrate in Athens. Picture: Getty
Supporters of a Yes vote demonstrate in Athens. Picture: Getty
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As PENSIONERS queued outside shuttered banks and fares were suspended on public transport in Athens to keep the Greek capital moving, fears were voiced that this weekend’s referendum threatened to take the country back to political divisions of its bloody civil war.

A pro-Europe rally in favour a “Yes” vote outside the Green Parliament in Syntagma Square began peacefully yesterday evening, following a similarly calm “No” demonstration the previous night.

But Dimitris Deniozos, a retired former general secretary at the ministry of scientific research, said divisions were growing, blaming the “bravura” of those who want to reject terms laid down by Greece’s creditors.

“There is a sizeable minority that are proud of opposing the powerful nations of Europe,” said Mr Deniozos, who served under the last government led by socialist party Pasok.

“Both the left and the right are becoming more radical. There is a polarization, and it reminds me more of the 1950s than any other period in Greek history.”

He added: “People are weary. They don’t know how they will get out of the crisis – that’s the worst. Either result will lead to the same situation of deadlock.

“There is no way out because there is no political movement in favour of international competitiveness or building Greece for the future. Now, we only think of the past.”

There were reports that capital controls preventing all but central bank-approved international transactions were beginning to bite, with Greek Apple users unable to keep up payments to the iCloud data service.

Athens Chamber of Commerce president Konstantinos Michalos warned that if controls were extended beyond this week, Greeks could be faced with empty shelves rather than just a lack of iPhone storage.

“Essentially, we don’t have any business transactions taking place, so it’s impossible to operate a normal business under these circumstances,” Mr Michalos said.

“The Greek economy is heavily reliant on import trade, so you need to have access to foreign trade. We need to find a method whereby we are exempted from capital controls for certain basic sectors, such as food and pharmaceuticals.

“Otherwise, if this continues for a number of days, we will begin to see serious shortages.”