Reports that Merkel suggested referendum on euro ′untrue′ | News | DW | 18.05.2012
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Reports that Merkel suggested referendum on euro 'untrue'

Germany has denied that Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested to Greece that it hold a referendum on whether to stay in the eurozone. The alleged comment angered some Greek politicians.

Germany has denied a report that Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that Greece hold a referendum on whether the country should remain in the eurozone.

"These reports just aren't true," a government spokesperson told the DPA news agency on Friday.

She was reacting to a statement released by the office of Greece's caretaker prime minister earlier in the day, which claimed that the chancellor had used a phone conversation with President Karolos Papoulias to express "thoughts on holding a referendum alongside the election on the question of whether Greek citizens wish to remain in the eurozone."

However, the statement also made clear that the judge who was appointed caretaker prime minister just on Thursday, believed implementing the idea would have been beyond the scope of his mandate anyway. His job is just to hold the fort until the next general election on June 17.

Storm of controversy

Despite the denial from Berlin, Merkel's alleged comments raised more than a few eyebrows in Athens.

"Greece doesn't need a referendum to prove its choice in favor of the euro, a choice that it's defending with bloody sacrifices," Antonis Samaras, leader of the conservative New Democracy party said. "But the Greek people deserve the respect of their European partners." New Democracy, which won the most seats in the election is one of the parties that supports the austerity measures introduced in Greece in return for a second international bailout.

The leader of the Syriza radical left party, Alexis Tsipras said that with her comments, Chancellor Merkel was treating Greece "as a protectorate." Syriza, which finished second in the May 6 vote, opposes the austerity measures and wants to either abandon them or renegotiate the terms of Greece's international bailout.

Ill-fated parliament's last session

Lawmakers met in Athens for their second and last session since this month's inconclusive vote, which produced a hung parliament. They were to pave the way for the president to formally dissolve parliament on Saturday.

Repeated attempts to form a government following that vote proved unsuccessful as neither the pro- or anti-austerity camps were able to find a majority.

pfd, slk/ch (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)