The Prime Minister of Greece, Alex Tsipras, has said his country will accept the proposed bailout offer, but only with several substantial changes.

Mr Tsipras sent a letter to creditors keeping alive the guttering candle of hope that Greece may remain in the European Union.

In the letter the Prime Minster says, “The Hellenic Republic is prepared to accept this … agreement subject to the following amendments, additions or clarifications …” The letter then went on state its own demands governing the cash-for-reforms contract offered by the creditors of Greece.

Among the demands are:

Greece is to maintain 30 per cent VAT discount on its islands.

The government wants the 2012 pension reform postponed until October 2015.

The European commission is submitting this latest offer to the finance ministers of the 19 nations currently using the euro.

Even as Prime Minister Tsipras made the counter-offer he said his country will go ahead with a referendum on the bailout package as it stands.

However, he is urging the people of Greece to vote ‘No’ so that he can negotiate for a better deal.

Mr Tsipras was at pains to make clear that voting against the current package did not mean a Greek exit from the Eurozone. This is not about staying or leaving the Eurozone, but about the bailout offer in its current form.

However, the Council of Europe questioned the very legitimacy of the referendum saying, “It is obvious that the timeline is too short with regards to our standards,” declared a dubious Daniel Holtgen, spokesman for the Council’s Secretary General Thorbjoern Jagland. “There are at least three criteria on which the Council of Europe has concerns about the validity of the proposed referendum.”

According to the Council voters need at least two weeks before a referendum is held. He also questioned whether the ballot paper was sufficiently ‘clear and understandable.’

All the Eurozone finance ministers (including that of Greece) will be holding a teleconference today. The member countries will decide what action is to be taken in the wake of Greece’s latest move.

Regardless of what they decide one thing is clear – Prime Minister Tsipras has bought his country a little more time. The Commission has already urged the European Financial Stability Facility (Greece’s largest creditor) to not call in its loan pending a decision on the possible new bailout agreement.

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