Athens: Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday Greece’s participation in the euro could not depend on a referendum.
“Greece’s position within the euro area is a historic conquest of the country that cannot be put in doubt. This achievement by the Greek people cannot depend on a referendum,” he said a statement.
His statement, released through his office as he arrived in Athens from the G20 summit of world leaders in Cannes, seemed to suggest a difference of view from his prime minister and from France and Germany, which said the popular vote must be on membership of the currency area.
Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos . 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.
Prime Minister George Papandreou said in Cannes: “It’s not the moment to give you the exact wording, but the essence is that this is not a question only of a programme, this is a question of whether we want to remain in the euro zone.”
Venizelos once again asked the opposition to support the government to help Greece stay in the euro and “act as a guarantee for the country’s international credibility.”
“If we want to protect the country we must, under conditions of national unity and political seriousness and consensus, implement without any delay the decision of 26 October. Now, as soon as possible.”
Papandreou stunned Athens’ EU partners and spooked financial markets by announcing on Monday he would call the referendum on the €130 billion ($178 billion) bailout plan he agreed with euro zone leaders last week.
The finance minister described his trip to Cannes after being discharged from hospital where he was treated for stomach pains on Wednesday as a “national duty.”