BRUSSELS, July 6 (Reuters) - Following are comments from European Commission Vice President for the Euro Valdis Dombrovskis at a news conference on Monday:
The European Commission takes note of the result of yesterday's referendum in Greece. We respect the democratic choice of the Greek people. The 'No' result, unfortunately, widens the gap between Greece and other euro zone countries. There is no easy way out of this crisis. Too much time and too many opportunities have been lost.
The Commission is ready to continue its work with Greece, but to be clear, the Commission cannot negotiate a new programme without a mandate form the Eurogroup. Yesterday's results announce a rejection of reforms proposed to a large extent by the Greek authorities itself, and linked to a now expired support programme for Greece.
Europe has been by the side of Greek people throughout the crisis. European taxpayers have offered unprecedented financial assistance. Since 2010, 184 billion euros have been disbursed from the Greek Loan Facility and the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility). They supported Greece to reform its economy so that it would stand proud and independent from outside help in the future. But reforms were often delayed or implemented only partially, resulting in a prolonged recession, and more difficult reforms to implement later.
However, only eight months ago, Greece was finally turning the page. The economy was finally growing and investments started to pick up and jobs were again being created. The country was looking forward to a return to the markets and ending its bailout programme by the end of last year.
Regrettably, the current Greek government was not able to use its extension to produce a credible strategy to come out of the crisis, regain financial stability, and return to economic growth.
The EFSF program for Greece expired on June 30, as did its related financial assistance. The Greek authorities introduced capital controls last Monday, as the liquidity situation became extremely serious. Greece has not made its latest payments to IMF. This is unfair on Greek people, who again face a very uncertain future.
Now, the priority is for the Greek government to quickly implement reforms necessary in order to restore financial stability, economic growth, and to address social problems in Greece. This means being honest and responsible with Greek people about the potential consequences of the different decisions that the government has taken.
The stability of the euro area is not in question. On June 17, Eurogroup reiterated that the euro area authorities stand ready to do whatever is necessary to ensure financial stability of the euro area. We have everything we need to manage the situation. We have a banking union to ensure the stability of the financial sector. We have ESM to help the most vulnerable economies. The ECB is using its tools to ensure stability.
But one thing is clear. The place of Greece is and remains in Europe. The vote is very difficult situation, and both sides need to work responsibly for the sake of Greek people.
If all sides are working closely it is possible to find a solution even in this very complicated situation.
Reporting by Brussels bureau