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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Europe responds to Greek referendum announcement

Here are some of the early reactions to the news from Athens...

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was reported to be “dismayed” by the news that Papandreou would call a referendum on the bailout deal. Sources close to Sarkozy said, “The Greek’s gesture is irrational and, from their point of view, dangerous.” According to the Presidents office, a phone call on the referendum will take place later today between Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The German government has so far refused to comment on “internal political developments in Greece.”

UK Chancellor George Osborne said: "Greece has to make its own decisions about how it takes its own decisions. But I am very clear that we have got to stick with the agreement that was reached by the eurozone nations - and indeed members of the European Union like Britain - last week."

Belgian Premier Yves Leterme is said to be “slightly surprised” about the announcement of a Greek referendum: “Papandreou bears a very heavy responsibility. The Greeks should have a perspective on a better future, but one should realise that this is not solely an internal Greek matter”.

German FDP parliamentary leader Rainer Brüderle announced he was "irritated" by the plans for a Greek referendum. He suggested that: “It seems that Athens is trying to wriggle out of the [eurozone] deal”. In addition, he clarified that in his opinion a no-vote would mean that Greece will no longer receive further money: "If one does not battle the causes [of Greece's crisis], but says 'we do want your money' this could not form a basis for unlimited further help. Then Greece will go a different way."

Alexander Stubb, Finnish Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Trade said a Greek referendum on the bailout deal would be a vote on its euro zone membership: "The situation is so tight that basically it [a Greek referendum] would be a vote on their [Greece's] euro membership".

A spokesperson for the Greek opposition party New Democracy accused Greek Premier George Papandreou of "tossing a coin over Greece's EU membership".

Dutch PM Harry van Bommel (Socialist Party) tweeted: “Greek referendum about rescue package is a good cause. After all, it’s the Greeks who will feel the pain of the cuts. When is it our turn [for a referendum]?”

***Update 15:00 With the fate of the Greek government now apparently hanging in the balance - with an emergency meeting being held now - a referendum may be dependant on Papandreou actually surviving the day, or the week, or the month. In other words, it may be replaced by general elections.

In any case, here are some more reactions from Germany on the evolving situation in Greece.

Courtesy of Der Tagesspiegel:

FDP MP Frank Schäffler - Germany's most vocal critic of the bailouts said:
”the planned referendum shows that the policy of rescue plans no longer works... Greece cannot be competitive in the Eurozone and should be excluded from it, in combination with a default and a subsequent aid programme.”
FDP MP Hermann Otto Solms, Vice President of the Bundestag:
“This is a surprise for all of us here...This is a very risky path for Greece, if the referendum fails, nothing option except leaving the euro remains. [A referendum] should take place as quickly as possible, if possible before the end of the year.”
SDP leader Sigmar Gabriel takes a more defensive approach, saying Papandreau and the Social Democrats are in the process of implementing “necessary and painful reforms that they, in conjunction with the EU, have agreed to. For this they deserve our full respect.” He adds that Papandreou is “cleaning up the legacy of the previous conservative government.”

Incoming new President of the European Parliament, Social Democrat MEP Martin Schultz played party politics, saying “Now Mrs Merkel is asked to convince her party friends (New Democracy) of the necessity of the reforms Papandreou has initiated. " adding that the conservative New Democracy party “has for a long time tried to block the path to reform.”


Rollo said...

We should all be dismayed by the shock and horror displayed by the idea of the people having a say.
The weedy politicians, exemplified by Sarkosy and Haw Haw Cameron, could learn from Papandreou.

Anonymous said...

The reactions of EU leaders to the Greek initiative spells a long way about disclosing who's a democratic leader and who's not.

simon luel said...

Now can SOMEONE explain me why letting Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain,and even Spain exiting the Eurozone is such a catastrophic event that even mentioning it cause great politicians and great journalists to shiver?
This would mean: keeping in the Association only the Countries with a sense of public (and private)morale, excluding those for which "combinazione" and profligacy has always been (Italy, Greece...)a way of living,or which have learned it fast (Ireland,...) and those whose socialist governments have opened the coffers... of other countries in order to please their electors.
So it would not be unfair.
Would it be bad for the remaining countries? Left working and living more unified between "serious people", where would be the trouble?
I will risk to suggest for whom it would be bad. First for the demagogic politicians who have built this cathedral of dreams and still back it, which such arguments like " the Europe is preventing future wars..."Between Greece or Portugal and France? Give me a break.
This all comes from a nastily efficient combination between greed for political power (aiming to lead a Big Europe, instead of a small part of it)and lack of deep understanding of reality, above words and slogans.
The only one who will be in trouble are the huge Funds and world currencies speculators. By playing against the weak countries (in turn, Greece, Italy, name who else after?) they are able to earn BILLIONS safely, as they have earned BILLIONS in the US during the 2007/08 crisis, by shorting one after the other the weakest US Banks. This is history.
It will maybe come to the founders of democracy to kick the ant nestle, maybe not for the good reasons, but this is Democracy isn't it, deciding rightly for wrong reasons.


Will Podmore said...

Good for the Greeks!
Maybe we too should have a referendum, so that the people can tell the poiticians what to do - instead of the other way round.

Frontier Strategy Group said...

From our analysis:

Frontier Strategy Group sees a greater than 50% chance that Greece will leave the Euro. Companies have two months to put contingency plans in place for Greece. Companies choosing to remain in Greece will need to develop strategies to finance suppliers and distributors as credit from Greek banks will dry up. Opportunistic companies are considering using Greece as an export hub, as leaving the EU would likely devalue the local currency by 50%, making Greece an attractive long-term play from a cost point of view.