Greeks should be asked 'do you want to keep euro?': France

2nd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Greek people should be asked if they want to keep the euro, not if they agree with the debt bailout deal clinched in Brussels, French Minister for European Affairs Jean Leonetti said Wednesday.

Leonetti was speaking after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's shock announcement of a referendum on the bailout which sent world stock markets into turmoil ahead of the G20 summit in Cannes.

"I think that what needs to be said to the Greek people is that this referendum is not 'do you agree with the deal that was made?' but 'do you want to stay in the eurozone or not?'" Leonetti told LCI television.

"That's an acceptable question, either an austerity plan that is necessary to clear the debt in exchange for Europe's solidarity, or, leave the euro, return to the national currency, but declare yourself bankrupt," he said.

Leonetti cited the case of Argentina, which defaulted on its debt in 2001 and "took 10 years to recover", despite its export capacity.

"Greece has no exports. So that means there will be poverty for the Greek people," he said.

"You can't criticise the idea of turning to the people to decide but the question has to be asked."

"I think you have to be clear to the Greek people and tell them there's no other solution to get out of the crisis than that proposed by the 17 (eurozone countries) at France's initiative and you can't say 'I'm against the agreement and at the same time want to stay in the euro and I'm not defaulting.'"

Leaving the euro "would be more dangerous for Greece and for the Greek people than for the eurozone," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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