Greece Denies Plans for Euro Zone Membership Referendum

Finance | September 20, 2011, Tuesday // 12:37|  views

Greece has been hit by a wave of strikes in protest against tough government measures, including salary freezes and tax increases. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Greek officials have denied a report in the local media that the government is considering the possibility of leaving the euro zone and reintroducing its own currency.

"No. We haven't discussed such an issue, definitely not," deputy government spokesman Angelos Tolkas told reporters.

He said the government had put to parliament on Monday a bill aimed at allowing the country to hold referenda but without specifying any issue.

"Yesterday we tabled a bill about referenda ... but we have not discussed anything more than holding a referendum."

Kathimerini daily wrote on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources, that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is considering calling for a referendum on whether Greece should continue to tackle its debt crisis within the euro zone or exit the single currency.

Papandreou had previously resisted calls for a euro referendum, but now hopes that the outcome would give a fresh mandate for his Socialist government to continue with an austerity drive backed by Greece's international lenders -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the newspaper said.

The cabinet is reportedly split over the idea, which if confirmed later, will come as a dramatic and illogical U-turn of the Greek government policy so far. Analysts have commented that there are not many chances that the pro-euro lobby will win in the referendum and besides austerity measures are never popular.

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Tags: EU, greece, Greek, bailout, International Monetary Fund, European Financial Stability Facility, euro, Referendum, zone


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