NEWS

Leaders relieved referendum dropped, awaiting next steps

Politicians around the world focused their attention on Friday on political developments in Greece, underlining that whichever government runs the country over the next few months will do so under great international pressure.

Speaking after the G-20 meeting in Cannes, US President Barack Obama questioned Prime Minister George Papandreou?s proposal to hold a referendum on the country?s eurozone debt deal and applauded New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras for backing last week?s Brussels agreement.

?We came to Cannes to discuss with our European friends how they will move forward and build upon the plan they agreed to last week to resolve this crisis,? he said.

Obama said the ?actions of Papandreou and the referendum issue got a lot of people nervous.? He added that the plan European leaders presented last week is ?still the best recipe.? He commended Samaras for saying he would support the bailout after the referendum proposal was dropped.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte welcomed Papandreou?s decision to withdraw the referendum but warned that the eurozone might lose patience with Athens. ?It was a bizarre proposal,? Rutte said. ?We think it?s of great importance to the eurozone that we prevent Greece from going bankrupt. But in the end, the euro is more important than Greece?s membership of the eurozone.?

There was greater support for Papandreou and Greece from former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. He said the ?main mistake? made over Greece in the debt crisis was that not enough was done to help the country get back on its feet.

?It?s no surprise Papandreou hardly had a chance to push through what was being demanded from him,? he said. ?The conservatives across Europe did very little to convince the Greek conservative opposition to stop acting irresponsibly.?

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