Berlin denies Merkel proposed Greek euro referendum
(BERLIN) - A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel denied Friday that she had suggested Greece hold a referendum on its euro membership alongside general elections next month, as claimed by Athens.
"The information reported that the chancellor had suggested a referendum to the Greek President Carolos Papoulias is wrong," said the spokeswoman.
Earlier on Friday the Greek caretaker prime minister's office said that Merkel had suggested that Greece hold a referendum on its euro membership alongside general elections next month.
In a phone call with President Papoulias, Merkel had "conveyed thoughts on holding a referendum alongside the election, on the question of whether Greek citizens wish to remain in the eurozone," a statement said.
"However, it is clear that the matter is beyond the competence of the caretaker government," said the office of Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, a senior judge appointed premier on Thursday with the sole task of holding elections in June.
Merkel had previously strongly opposed the idea of a Greek referendum when it was proposed in October by Greece's then prime minister, the Socialist George Papandreou.
Papandreou was forced to resign soon afterwards after a backbencher revolt over the terms of a tough EU-IMF debt accord which included harsh austerity measures.
Greek voters rejected those painful spending cuts and tax hikes in a May 6 poll and could do so again June 17, raising concerns about the fate of the 237 billion euros ($300 billion) EU-IMF bailout package.
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