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Greece confirms Merkel asks president to hold euro area membership referendum

May 19, 2012, 1:21 UTC+3
According to the representative of the Greek cabinet, it is obvious that the organization of the referendum is "beyond the competence of the interim government"
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Photo ITAR-TASS

Photo ITAR-TASS

ATHENS, May 19 (Itar-Tass) —— The Greek government has confirmed that Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested President Karolos Papoulias hold a referendum on the country’s membership of the euro area, as follows from a statement by the official representative of the interim cabinet, Dimitris Tsiodras.

Tsiodras said Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos after today's telephone conversation with President Papoulias contacted all the leaders of the parliamentary parties and informed them about the content of the conversation that the president had earlier with the German chancellor.

According Tsiodras, during the meeting Merkel, "explained to the Greek President her views on a referendum (in Greece) alongside with (early parliamentary) elections (on June 17) on the issue of Athens’ membership of the euro area.” According to the representative of the Greek cabinet, it is obvious that the organization of the referendum is "beyond the competence of the interim government."

The German chancellor’s proposal for a referendum Greece has already caused a sharp reaction from the Greek political parties. The leader of the coalition of radical left-wing forces (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras said that "Merkel is in the habit of treating the political leadership of Greece as if the country were a protectorate, and that right was given to her by (the Greek Socialist leader Evangelos) Venizelos and (chairman of the center-right New Democracy party Antonis) Samaras. "

The chairman of the right-of-center Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenas said that "Germany, if it wants to, can hold a referendum in its territory and quit the euro area, while we do not have that problem." The Communist Party of Greece stated that it "rejects and condemns intimidation in the form of a referendum, which Merkel has suggested."

In turn, Antonis Samaras, the leader of the right-of-center ND party, which supports the agreement with the EU and the IMF, said that "the Greek people does not need a referendum to prove its commitment to the euro - a choice that it protects with its great sacrifices."

"The people of Greece have the right to partners’ respect,” said Samaras. “Merkel’s proposal for a referendum, especially during the election campaign, is at least regrettable and cannot be accepted."

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