News / Europe

European Leaders Set for Showdown on Greek Debt Referendum

A French police officer walks past the G20 logo and slogan, 'New World, New Ideas,' outside the festival palace as preparations for the G20 summit continue in Cannes, France, November 2, 2011.
A French police officer walks past the G20 logo and slogan, 'New World, New Ideas,' outside the festival palace as preparations for the G20 summit continue in Cannes, France, November 2, 2011.

European leaders are set for a showdown Wednesday with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou over his call for a referendum on a debt-relief agreement.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel summoned the Greek leader to Cannes, France, a day before the G20 summit. Greece is not a member of the group, but Mr. Papandreou's referendum plan has become the summit's central issue.

The call for the Greek vote sent world stock markets plunging Tuesday, as investors worried the debt-relief plan would unravel and Greece would default on its international loans.  

The agreement reached last week calls for banks to forgive $140 billion in Greek debt to help stabilize its precarious finances. But the Greek people have protested loudly, and sometimes violently, against the austerity measures demanded by international creditors.

Mr. Sarkozy said the continent-wide agreement is "the only way to solve Greece's debt problem." Mrs. Merkel said Europe wants to proceed with the debt-relief plan, but said the continent's leaders "need clarity" from Greece about when the referendum would be held and what question voters would be answering.  

The French minister for European affairs, Jean Leonetti, said the referendum should ask voters whether they want Greece to stay in the bloc of 17 nations that use the euro currency, not whether they agree with the debt-relief plan. He said last week's agreement cannot be renegotiated.

Greek Cabinet ministers have given their support for Mr. Papandreou's referendum plan. But whether he can survive Friday's scheduled confidence vote in Parliament remained an open question.

Some lawmakers in his tenuous Socialist party majority called for his resignation or threatened to defect on the confidence vote in order to kill the referendum. Others called for a temporary unity government to carry out the debt-relief agreement ahead of a new national election.

The prime minister told his Cabinet that Greeks would be asked whether they want to keep using the euro currency, instead of returning to its old drachma currency. He said any deal will only be implemented with the consent of the Greek people, and that he hopes any turmoil caused by his unexpected announcement will only be temporary.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid