At the strike of midnight Tuesday, Greece appears set to join a small and economically unenviable group of countries including Zimbabwe, Sudan and Somalia — countries in arrears to the International Monetary Fund.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday asked other nations using the euro for a third bailout to buy Athens time to renegotiate the terms of its debt. Tsipras’ request followed Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’ confirmation that the country will miss the €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) payment to the IMF.

The future of Greece and the European project as a whole currently hangs in the balance, as The Guardian explains:

There will be no more IMF lending after the failure to repay the debt. And for the first time since 2010, Greece is now without a eurozone and European Central Bank package keeping it afloat. The country goes to the polls on Sunday in a referendum called by Tsipras at short notice to vote on whether to accept creditor bailout terms, even though these are no longer on the table.

The Greek government insisted on Tuesday the ballot meant Athens remained at the negotiating table, while rejecting the terms on offer. Eurozone leaders maintained the vote was tantamount to a choice of whether or not to stay in the single currency.

After stunning fellow EU leaders by calling the referendum on Friday night, Tsipras on Tuesday delivered a last-minute bombshell by writing to eurozone leaders demanding a new, separate two-year bailout, hours before the current arrangements lapsed.

Eurozone finance ministers talked by teleconference last night to consider the sudden Greek demand. But they appeared to be going through the motions. They are unlikely to pre-empt the result of Sunday’s referendum by committing either way. In Berlin, chancellor Angela Merkel signalled there could be no talk of a new bailout for Greece until after Sunday’s vote.

Read the rest here.

As Politico makes clear, failure to pay an IMF debt usually results in a 30-day extension, but IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde stated that she will notify her executive board to take urgent action if the money — part of the total €23 billion ($26 billion) Greece still owes — isn’t paid. Find out what happens at midnight here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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