Greeks must say quickly if want to keep euro: France

2nd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Wednesday he regretted Greece's "unilateral" call for a referendum on a debt rescue package and that Greeks must say quickly if they want to keep the euro.

"Of course... in a democracy it's always legitimate to turn to the people but we regret and I want to say this solemnly... this unilateral announcement on a problem that involves all of Greece's partners," Fillon told parliament.

"The Greeks must say quickly and without ambiguity if they want to keep their place in the eurozone or not," he said.

Fillon said the sudden Greek announcement of holding a referendum on a bailout deal agreed last month had "surprised all of Europe".

He said "there is nothing to reproach the Greek prime minister for in holding a referendum."

But he added: "He can be reproached for having negotiated for hours and hours to reach a unanimously signed deal without ever indicating the possibility of holding this referendum to his partners in the EU."

Greek government spokesman Ilias Mossialos said Wednesday that Prime Minister George Papandreou had informed EU countries of his intentions regarding a referendum but had not said when it would be announced.

"This is a decision that could have very serious consequences, first for Greece but also for Europe itself," Fillon warned.

"The Greeks must understand that Europe cannot spend long weeks hanging on the answer they will give in the referendum," he said.

Fillon said Europeans, "and the Greek people in particular, must be reminded that we cannot be part of Europe to benefit from its solidarity and apart from Europe in order to escape from the discipline that each nation must consent to."

"If this referendum must be held, the terms of the referendum must be clear: between European solidarity... and national bankruptcy. The choice must be made," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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