Greek PM Begs For More Time, Channels FDR: "The Only Thing To Fear Is Fear Itself"

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In his first inaugural address after taking office during the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt said: "Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras channeled these words tonight in a nationwide emergency address. "In these critical hours," Tsipras said, "we must remember that the only thing to fear is fear itself."

The subject of this address was a last-minute emergency request for a one-week extension on billions of dollars in debt to European creditors which is supposed to come due tomorrow. The extension would be used to organize a referendum next Sunday, so the people of Greece can agree to the European Central Bank's austerity terms.

"I sent a short extension request again today," he continued. "This time to the President of the European Council and to the 18 Heads of State of the Eurozone, as well to the heads of the ECB, European Commission and the European Parliament. I am awaiting their immediate response to this fundamentally democratic request...

They are the only ones who can immediately -- even tonight -- reverse the Eurogroup's decision and enable the ECB to restore liquidity to the banks."

"The refusal of an extension of a few short days and the attempt to cancel a purely democratic process is an insult and a great disgrace to Europe's democratic traditions."

Sunday in Greece, rumors were confirmed that Greek banks and the Athens Stock Exchange would be closed on Monday.

[Rough translation/transcript]

GREEK PRIME MINISTER ALEXIS TSIPRAS: Yesterday's Eurogroup decision not to approve the Greek government's request for a few days extension of the program to give the Greek people a chance to decide by referendum on the institution's ultimatum constitutes an unprecedented challenge to European affairs -- an action that seeks to bar the right of a sovereign people to exercise their democratic prerogative.

A high and sacred right, the expression of opinion.

The Eurogroup's decision prompted the ECB to not increase liquidity to Greek banks and forced the Bank of Greece to recommend that banks remain closed as well as restrictive measures on withdrawals.

These decisions will only serve to bring about the very opposite result.

It is clear that the objective of the Eurogroup's and ECB's decision is to attempt to blackmail the will of the Greek People and hinder the democratic process, namely, holding the referendum. They will not succeed. They will further stregnthen the resolve of the Greek people to reject the unacceptable memorandum proposals and the institutions' ultimatums.

One thing remains certain, the refusal of an extension of a few short days and the attempt to cancel a purely democratic process is an insult and a great disgrace to Europe's democratic traditions.

For this reason, I sent a short extension request again today, this time to the President of the European Council and to the 18 Heads of State of the Eurozone as well to the heads of the ECB, European Commission and the European Parliament. I am awaiting their immediate response to this fundamentally democratic request.

They are the only ones who can immediate -- even tonight -- reverse the Eurogroup's decision and enable the ECB to restore liquidity to the banks.

What is needed in the coming days is composure and patience.

The deposits of citizens in Greek banks is absolutely assured.

The same is guaranteed and the payment of salaries and pensions.

Any difficulties will addressed calmly and decisively.

The more calmly face the difficulties, the sooner we will overcome and the more mild will be the consequences.

We have the opportunity today to prove to ourselves and the world that justice can prevail. We once again have the historical opportunity to send to Europe and the world a message of hope and dignity.

And remember: In this critical hour, as we face history together, our only fear is fear.

We will not allow it to overcome us.
We will make it.

The dignity of the Greek people against the face of blackmail and injustice, will send a message of hope and pride throughout Europe.

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