France, Germany give Greece ultimatum on euro

Wed Nov 2, 2011 7:30pm EDT
 
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By Paul Taylor and Janet McBride

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The leaders of Germany and France told Greece on Wednesday it would not receive another cent in European aid until it decides whether it wants to stay in the euro zone.

They also made clear that saving the euro was ultimately more important to them than rescuing Greece.

After emergency talks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "We would rather achieve a stabilization of the euro with Greece than without Greece, but this goal of stabilizing the euro is more important."

Sarkozy hammered home the same message, telling a joint news conference with Merkel: "Our Greek friends must decide whether they want to continue the journey with us."

Papandreou outraged European partners and caused panic on financial markets by announcing on Monday that Greece would hold a referendum on a second bailout plan negotiated with euro zone leaders last week.

The Greek leader, looking chastened after a torrid dinner with European Union decision-makers that Merkel called "tough and hard" on the eve of a summit of G20 major world economies, said the plebiscite would take place around December 4.

"It's not the moment to give you the exact wording, but the essence is that this is not a question only of a program, this is a question of whether we want to remain in the eurozone," Papandreou said.

Despite opinion polls showing a majority of Greeks, weary of two years of deepening austerity, think the bailout package was a bad deal for Greece, he said he expected more support from the wider population than he could muster in parliament.   Continued...