CANNES, November 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Greece may hold a referendum on EU/IMF bailout plan on December 4, Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday after urgent consultations with European leaders and added he hoped the Greeks would say “yes” to the plan.
“I believe the Greek people are wise and capable of making the right decision for the benefit of our country and the whole of Europe. This is a question of whether we want to remain in the euro zone,” he said.
Explaining the surprise decision to call a referendum Papandreou said: “It is important for the Greek people to decide. We are proud of being a part of the euro zone and we can fulfill our commitments.”
He added the referendum is important “for our place in the system of common European currency.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Greece will receive no more European bailout aid until it has put an end to uncertainty and agreed to meet its commitments to the euro zone.
If a referendum is held, it should be on whether Greece stays in the euro zone or leaves. Europe could not endure a long period of uncertainty, he added.
“Our Greek friends must decide whether they want to continue the journey with us”, Sarkozy said.
Merkel made it clear euro stabilization was more important than rescuing Greece.
“We would rather achieve a stabilization of the euro with Greece than without Greece, but this goal of stabilizing the euro is more important,” she said.
Papandreou surprised EU partners by announcing on Monday he would call a referendum on a 130 billion euro ($178 billion) bailout plan he agreed with euro zone leaders last week.
Papandreou said Greece had enough money to keep running until mid-December, when it has to redeem more than 6 billion euro in debt.