Greek finance minister withdraws support for referendum
Published 03/11/2011 | 08:42
EMBATTLED Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is under further pressure this morning after his finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said that he does not support the plan to hold a referendum on whether the country should stay in the euro.
After returning to Athens from the G20 talks in Cannes last night, Mr Venizelos issued a statement saying he had a "duty to tell the Greek people the full and simple truth.
"Greece's place in the euro is a historical conquest by the Greek people that cannot be placed in question... this cannot be made dependent on a referendum.
"What is important is for the sixth tranche to be disbursed, without any distractions or delay, according to the decisions of Eurogroup of 26 October, which came as a result of 10 hours of hard negotiations."
A second Greek cabinet minister has also come out in opposition to Papandreou's plans for a referendum.
Development Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis said that instead of a referendum, parliament should vote on the deeply unpopular EU debt rescue deal clinched last week.
Mr Papandreou is facing a parliamentary confidence vote tomorrow and if he loses that, as seems increasingly likely, there is talk of creating a government of national unity.
Vasso Papandreou, a senior Greek ruling party lawmaker, has reiterated her call for snap elections and a national unity government.
"The only realistic proposal right now for the country to avoid collapse is to set up a government of national unity immediately.
"Early elections should then be immediately called."