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The Latest: Greek premier wants biggest ‘no’ vote possible

Pensioners line up as they wait to be allowed into a bank to withdraw a maximum of 120 euros ($134) for the week, Thursday, July 2, 2015. Greece braced for more chaos on the streets outside its mostly shuttered banks Thursday, as Athens and its creditors halted talks on resolving the country's deepening financial crisis until a referendum this weekend. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The latest news on Greece’s financial woes (all times local):


10:45 p.m.

Greece’s prime minister says “the bigger the ‘no’ vote, the better agreement we’ll achieve” and that a powerful “no” in Sunday’s austerity referendum would “send tremors” throughout Europe.

Alexis Tsipras told private Antenna TV station in an interview Thursday that he wants Greece to remain within the eurozone, but with a sustainable bailout agreement. He said a “yes” win would lead to a deal that puts additional burdens on Greece without growth.

He skirted a question whether he would call elections if the “yes” side prevails, saying that he would remain “the institutional guardian of the constitution” and set in motion “the necessary procedures.”

Tsipras told state TV in an interview earlier this week that he was not an “all weather” prime minister — strongly indicating he would step down if his proposal is defeated.


8:45 p.m.

Greece’s government says the International Monetary Fund’s report on Greece “completely justifies” Greece’s position on debt sustainability.

In a report released Thursday, the IMF says Greece needs both debt relief and 50 billion euros ($56 billion) in new financing from October through 2018.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government has long argued that any new deal with Greece’s creditors would have to address the country’s debt by including some form of restructuring or debt relief.

Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis says the IMF report “constitutes a confession of failure of the (Greek bailout).”

Others criticized the report. Ashoka Mody, a visiting professor at Princeton University, said it shows the IMF and the European Union were not “negotiating in good faith” with Greece since they did not talk about debt relief.


8:25 p.m.

The senior party in Greece’s ruling coalition thinks the Greek media is being biased in its reporting ahead of the country’s austerity referendum on Sunday.

Syriza, the left-wing party of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, is appealing to the country’s media watchdog to get private TV and radio stations to stop from what it called an “incomprehensible and unprecedented” campaign in favor of a “yes” vote.

In a letter Thursday to the Greek National Council for Radio and Television, Syriza said the pro-‘yes’ media campaign is devoid of any impartiality and fans talk of impending doom that threatens to undermine social stability.

Syriza asked the council to make Greek media allocate equal time to both sides as required.


7:55 p.m.

Ashoka Mody, a visiting professor in international economic policy at Princeton University, thinks the International Monetary Fund’s latest report on Greece shows that the IMF and the European Union were not “negotiating in good faith” with the debt-wracked nation.

The IMF says Thursday that Greece needs both debt relief and 50 billion euros ($56 billion) in new financing from October through 2018.

Mody told The Associated Press that “if the IMF and other creditors had this document while they were negotiating with the Greeks, it is completely unconscionable that they did not discuss deep debt relief.”

Mody believes Greece’s creditors need to write down the country’s debt by perhaps half and stop insisting that the Greek government cut spending and raise taxes. He says austerity measures have proven counterproductive, driving the Greek economy into recession and making it harder for the country to repay its debts.


7:20 p.m.

Here’s the question all Greeks want to know: When will the banks reopen?

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had an answer for that and other key questions posed to him Thursday by reporters ahead of Sunday’s referendum on whether Greece should accept creditors’ demands for more austerity in exchange for more loans.

Will the banks reopen? Varoufakis said: “Of course they’ll open! Of course!”

When will that be? He replied: “On Tuesday.”

Will the banks reopen with or without a deal between Greece and its creditors? Varoufakis said: “With a deal, which is a certainty.”

European leaders have said if the vote goes Varuoufakis’ way and Greeks reject the demands, Greece will face financial chaos and eventually be pushed out of the 19-nation eurozone.


6:55 p.m.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance is concerned about the financial turmoil in Greece, which is a member of the 28-nation group.

Stoltenberg called Greece “a staunch ally and a committed ally” on Thursday. He said the Greek government stands by its “commitments in the alliance. This good for Greece and good for NATO.”

Speaking at a press conference in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, Stoltenberg said NATO was following European Union efforts “very closely” and that a solution to Greece’s economic problems would be good for Greece, the EU and NATO.

One of the issues that divided Greece and its creditors before talks broke off last week was defense spending. The Greek government had offered to cut 200 million euros ($222 million) annually from its defense budget but lenders demanded twice that amount.


6:30 p.m.

The International Monetary Fund is putting the blame for Greece’s current economic predicament largely on the Greek government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

It noted, for example, that Greece has been slow to privatize state assets. In 2011, the IMF predicted that Greece would raise 50 billion euros from selling off state properties by the end of 2015; so far, it has only raised 3.2 billion euros through privatizations.

The multinational lending agency says Greece will need debt relief and 50 billion euros ($56 billion) from October through 2018. It says European creditors will have to come up with 36 billion euros ($40 billion) of that new financing and the credit will have to be offered on “highly concessional terms” — low interest rates and long repayment periods.


6 p.m.

The International Monetary Fund says Greece needs debt relief and 50 billion euros ($56 billion) in new financing from October through 2018.

The IMF said Thursday that Greece’s finances have deteriorated because Athens has been slow about enacting economic reforms. Last year, the IMF predicted Greece’s debt would fall from 175 percent of economic output in 2013 to 128 percent in 2020. Now it sees Greece’s debts at 150 percent in 2020.

The IMF says creditors must offer Greece discounted interest rates and a longer repayment period.

The analysis was made before Greece defaulted on IMF loans Tuesday and closed its banks Monday. The outlook is worse now.

Greeks vote Sunday on whether to accept demands that creditors were proposing to resolve a debt standoff.


5:35 p.m.

The campaigns for Greece’s Sunday referendum on economic demands by creditors have been hampered by the short time available to roll out their messages.

There’s scarcely any polling data, television ads only began airing Wednesday and “Yes” vote posters only appeared around Athens on Thursday.

That leaves the main election rallies on Friday evening as a crucial tool. The pro-government

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