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Merkel urges Greek referendum on euro amid exit fears

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-05-18

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told caretaker President Karolos Papoulias in a phone call Friday that Greece should hold a referendum on staying in the eurozone when it holds new polls on June 17. The idea was rejected by Greece's two main parties.

REUTERS - German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed with Greece's President on Friday whether his country should hold a referendum on staying in the Euro, but the idea was vehemently rejected by Greece's two biggest parties.

Merkel spoke on the phone with President Karolos Papoulias, who failed this week to convince political leaders to form a government after an inconclusive May 6 election, meaning the vote will be held again on June 17.

"(Merkel) relayed to the President (Karolos Papoulias) thoughts about holding a referendum in parallel with the elections on the question whether Greek citizens wish to remain in the euro zone," Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras said in a statement.

Greek parties backing the country's international bailout failed to win a majority on May 6. European Union leaders and officials have since warned that if the country fails to elect a pro-bailout government sticking to its harsh austerity measures, Athens might have to abandon to euro.

Greece's two biggest parties, the pro-bailout conservative New Democracy and the anti-bailout radical leftist SYRIZA, rejected the idea of a referendum.

"The Greek people don't need a referendum to prove they're pro-euro," said New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras in a statement. "Her idea is unfortunate, to say the least, and can't be accepted," he added.

"Ms. Merkel is used to address Greece's political leaders as if the country was a protectorate," SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said.

Government spokesman Tsiodras said that Greece's current interim government had no authority to call a referendum. "It is obvious that this issue is outside the scope of a caretaker government," he said in his statement.

Date created : 2012-05-18

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