Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has conceded that the bailout deal that he agreed to in Brussels in the early hours of Monday was tantamount to "blackmail" by European creditors but said he had no choice but to implement it.
In his first televised interview since returning from Brussels, Tsipras also warned that it could be some time before Greek banks fully re-open and the withdrawal limits imposed at ATMs will be increased.
The prime minister, who now faces the tough task of pushing through the proposed third bailout deal in parliament, acknowledged that he did not believe in the agreement but said that Greece would have been forced into bankruptcy and exit the euro.
"The hard truth is this one-say street for Greece was imposed on us. The policies imposed on us were irrational. We faced a tough and punitive position."
On when Greek banks would re-open after they were ordered shut and capital controls imposed by the government a week before the referendum on 5 July after the European Central Bank refused to increase additional funding to Athens and to stem panic withdrawal of funds, he said:
"When banks open depends on when we have the final ratification of the agreement." He however promised that there would be a gradual return to normality with an increase in the withdrawal limit.
In an indirect response to former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis comments that Tsipras would rather resign than put forward the bailout terms to parliament, the prime minister insisted that he would not step down nor call for an early election.
"The worst thing a captain can do while he is steering a ship during a storm, as difficult as it is, is to abandon the helm," he said.
Tsipras said: "I assume responsibility for all mistakes I may have made, I assume responsibility for a text I do not believe in, but which I signed to avoid disaster for the country, the collapse of the banks."
He said he had fought to prevent cuts in wages and pensions, still insisting that the terms finally agreed to in Brussels were milder than those on offer in previous deals. He said the 5 July referendum helped secure a better and more long term deal for Greeks.
He said Greece must stick to the fiscal adjustment the deal foresees because a Grexit and a parallel currency were simply not options for the beleaguered country, as it does not have the resources to implement its own currency.
Legislations paving the way for the bailout deal will be voted on in Greek parliament today (15 July). When Athens fullfills its end of the deal, the German parliament will hold a special session on Friday (17 July) on authorising its government to open new loan negotiations with Greece.
Greek minister urges Tsipras to 'take back agreement'
Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis in a statement, urged Tsipras to "take back the agreement" before any final decisions are made by parliament.
"The agreement signed with the institutions is unacceptable and a radical party such as Syriza does not deserve to be responsible for bringing such an agreement, after fighting to abolish the bailout programmes and austerity measures."
He accused the "so-called partners" and most of all the German government of treating Greece as their colony and described them as brutal blackmailers and financial assassins, the Greek Reporter said.
The agreement practically voids the people's mandate of their proud 'No' in the referendum, he lamented.
Lafazanis said that although the Greek parliament may pass the agreement with the help of the New Democracy, Pasok and To Potami parties, the Greek people "will not accept it, they will void the agreement through their struggles and unity."
Despite the fact that both Greece and the eurogroup seem closer to a deal, both sides still continue to exchange sharp words through the media.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem who chairs the Eurogroup of finance ministers said he was angry at Tsipras for urging Greek votes to reject a similar package of austerity measures in a referendum.
"You can't promise things that you can't bring about," he told Dutch television, according to the BBC.