CANNES, France (AP) -- European leaders heaped pressure on Greece over its
decision to hold a referendum on its latest bailout deal, calling it a vote
on whether it wants to stay in the eurozone and vowing Athens would not get
new rescue loans until the result was in.
The acknowledgment that the vote -- which will likely take place on Dec. 4 -
- could see Greece leave the currency union is the first official admission
that such an exit is possible and follows almost two years of pledges to the
"The referendum ... in essence is about nothing else but the question, does
Greece want to stay in the eurozone, yes or no?" German Chancellor Angela
Merkel said at a news conference together with French President Nicolas
A "no" vote in the referendum would have enormous consequences not just for
Greece but for the rest of Europe. It could break up the 17-nation eurozone,
lead Greece to a disorderly debt default, topple many fragile European
banks and send the global economy spinning back into recession.
Merkel and Sarkozy, as leaders of the two biggest eurozone economies, held
emergency talks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Cannes,
France to discuss his stunning proposal to hold the vote. The discussion
also included International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde and top EU
and eurozone officials.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the referendum
would be held Dec. 4, though Sarkozy said the vote would be Dec. 4 or 5.