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Major Greek banks 'could be forced to merge'

Some of Greece's biggest banks may have to shut and merge with their rivals, it has been claimed.

A European official told the Reuters news agency that Greece's four big banks - National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, Piraeus and Alpha Bank - could be reduced to just two.

European leaders are meeting on Sunday in a bid to strike a financial aid deal with Greece.

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Greek PM: 'We will not allow fear to overcome us'

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has accused the Eurogroup and the ECB of an "attempt to blackmail the will of the Greek people and to hinder democratic processes".

In a televised speech given yesterday evening, Tsipras promised that this weekend's referendum on whether Greece should accept austerity measures imposed on it by the EU would go ahead.

"One thing remains certain," he said. "The refusal of a [debt payment] extension of a few short days, and the attempt to cancel a purely democratic process is an insult and a great disgrace to Europe’s democratic traditions."

He finished: "The dignity of the Greek people in the face of blackmail and injustice will send a message of hope and pride to all of Europe."

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