As eurozone ministers pressured Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to drop plans for an announced referendum on the country’s latest negotiated rescue package, they made their priorities clear at a midnight news conference following a grueling crisis meeting in Cannes.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the group’s priority was to save its currency, not to rescue Greece. The pressure apparently had its desired effect; Papandreou later in the day announced he would ditch the referendum provided the opposition would support the bailout.
Reuters reported that ahead of the G20 meeting beginning Thursday, eurozone members had begun to discuss the possibility of a Greek exit from the 17-nation bloc. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who is chairman of the group, said discussions were under way on how to manage such a move. He was quoted saying, “We are working on the subject of how to ensure there is not a disaster for the people in Germany, Luxembourg, the eurozone. We are absolutely prepared for the situation.”