Sarkozy, Merkel tell Greeks to decide euro future

Greece will receive no more European bailout aid until it has put an end to uncertainty and agreed to meet its commitments to the euro zone, the leaders of France and Germany said on Wednesday.

Speaking after talks between senior European Union leaders and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a news conference: «Our Greek friends must decide whether they want to continue the journey with us.”

European leaders were angered by Papandreou’s surprise unilateral announcement on Monday of a referendum on a bailout deal reached with euro zone leaders at a summit last week.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the same news conference that Germany wanted to stabilise the euro zone with Greece as a member, but stabilising the euro was ultimately more important than rescuing Greece.

Sarkozy said that if a referendum is held, it should be on whether Greece stays in the euro zone or leaves. Europe could not endure a long period of uncertainty and he was pleased that Papandreou had indicated that if a referendum is held, it would be around Dec. 4/5.

Papandreou stunned Athens’ EU partners and spooked financial markets by announcing on Monday he would call a referendum on a 130 billion euro ($178 billion) bailout plan he agreed with euro zone leaders last week.