Greek Banks to Reopen as Tsipras’s New Cabinet Takes Over

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National Bank of Greece
An elderly man looks through a glass door of the National Bank of Greece in Athens, Greece, on July 12. Photographer: Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Greek banks will reopen on Monday as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rebuilds his government to shore up support for a bailout agreed upon with the country’s creditors.

The banks, which have remained closed since June 29, will open July 20, the government said on Saturday. Most capital controls concerning withdrawals and money transfers will remain, and while the daily limit was held at 60 euros ($65), a cumulative limit of 420 euros a week was set, it said.

Lenders will reopen a week after Tsipras and creditors agreed to a bailout program and Greek lawmakers approved legislation needed to release funding for the country. Hours after the vote, the European Central Bank approved emergency financing for the country’s lenders and the European Union finalized a bridge loan on Friday to provide a stop-gap until a full three-year rescue program, worth as much as 86 billion euros, is settled.

“This will improve the image of the economy for Greeks inside the country,” said Aristides Hatzis, an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens. “It’s just the beginning and a more ambitious option wasn’t possible.”

The prime minister’s office said Panagiotis Skourletis will replace Panagiotis Lafazanis, who heads the Left Platform fraction of Tsipras’s Syriza party, as energy minister. George Katrougalos will succeed Skourletis as labor minister. Nadia Valavani, Dimitris Stratoulis, Kostas Isichos and Nikos Chountis, who also, as Lafazanis, voted against the legislation, were removed from the government.

Held Hostage

Following Thursday’s vote, Tsipras told his associates that he would be forced to lead a minority government until a final deal with creditors is concluded. In all, 64 of the parliament’s 300 lawmakers voted against the bill. Half of the “no” votes came from Syriza, including former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Tsipras is “being held hostage by both his lawmakers, who refuse to vote for the measures, and by the opposition, whose support he needs to pass the measures through parliament,” Hatzis said. “The only way out is elections.” His new government will probably last “a maximum of two months,” he said.

The German parliament also cleared the way for talks on a third bailout after Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that failing to try would be reckless and sow chaos. Finland’s parliament gave its approval Thursday, while Austrian lawmakers also backed negotiations.

“What we are witnessing is European solidarity in action,” Valdis Dombrovskis, EU Commission vice president for euro policy, said Friday. “This agreement backed by 28 European Union member states prevents Greece from an immediate default.”

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