bjbjLULU RAY SUAREZ: The prime minister of
Greece, George Papandreou, flew to France late today to explain his sudden call for
a referendum on a new European bailout for his country. The leaders of France and Germany,
Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, awaited answers, at Cannes, on the French Riviera.
We have two reports from Independent Television News, beginning with Gary Gibbon. GARY GIBBON:
The German chancellor and the French president met in Cannes ahead of their emergency talks
with the Greek prime minister. They want the Greek referendum to happen sooner, rather
than later. It could now be next month. They also want the Greeks to be asked a stark question
about whether they want to stay in the euro. A Greek government spokesman tonight said
that won’t happen and the referendum question will be on the bailout deal. Earlier in Berlin,
welcoming the Turkish prime minister, Angela Merkel said, Germany urgently needed to know
where Greece was heading. “We have to have clarity about what is coming next,” Chancellor
Merkel said. “Last week, we agreed on a program with Greece and the EU And I can speak for
Germany here. We want to implement the program.” In another curtain-raiser to tonight’s talks
in Cannes, the European Commission president came close to calling for a government of
national unity in Greece, and he warned of dire consequences if Greece doesn’t stick
to the euro bailout deal. JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, European Commission: The conditions for Greek
citizens will become much more painful, particularly for the most vulnerable. The consequences
will be impossible to foresee. That is why I call on the Greek government and all political
leaders of Greece to show that they are ready to work for national unity, national political
unity. GARY GIBBON: As President Hu arrived in Cannes, the Chinese official news agency
called on Greece to drop its referendum. Behind the scenes, Europe’s leaders have made similar
private appeals. But one way or another, through a referendum or an election, the odds right
now are that the Greek people probably will get their say, whether the Eurozone likes
it or not. JEFFREY BROWN: In Greece today, there was growing political turmoil in the
wake of Prime Minister Papandreou’s call for a vote on the bailout plan. Our second report
is from Faisal Islam in Athens. FAISAL ISLAM: Another experiment in democracy in the place
of its birth, the Greek Parliament now debating the survival of an embattled government after
the shock decision to send its carefully negotiated bailout to the consent of the people — the
response in the Greek press, universally hostile. “Traitor,” says this headline. “Country and
Government in Nervous Breakdown,” says this one. Are you going to vote yes or no? MAN:
I don’t know what I’m going to vote, because I don’t know what exactly is going to — to
ask from us. FAISAL ISLAM: People angry with Papandreou? MAN: Of course. They’re angry.
FAISAL ISLAM: Yes or no? WOMAN (through translator): Yes. I will vote yes. FAISAL ISLAM: Why? WOMAN
(through translator): Because I think that for Papandreou to do this, he must be in a
difficult position. They cornered him. Something’s going on. He’s not doing it to hurt his country.
FAISAL ISLAM: George Papandreou has now hitched the future of the single currency and the
world economy to the bewildered locals of this small, but ancient nation. The euro and
the drachma side by side, no longer just a consequence of coin collecting, but a plausible
outcome of this crisis, and a dangerous gamble, says Greece’s opposition leader. ANTONIS SAMARAS,
Greek opposition leader (through translator): The government is blackmailing the people
to accept the bailout package and its mistaken policy at the same time. And it’s taking the
risk that the people will reject the bailout package, along with the policies, which could
put Greece’s membership in the Eurozone in danger, as well as the Eurozone itself. FAISAL
ISLAM: Given that, why did Greece’s prime minister gamble this country’s relative prosperity
on an unannounced referendum about which he failed to inform his own finance minister?
NICK MALKOUTZIS, Kathimerini Daily: It’s really, I think, a prime minister that’s trying to
shake the pack and to see how the cards fall, and he’s hoping that they will fall in his
favor. But it could fall — bring down the euro it with. That’s a possibility. I hope
that he’s thought about that. FAISAL ISLAM: Tonight, Athens awaits what gifts or admonishments
are given out to their prime minister by France and Germany in Cannes. RAY SUAREZ: The European
bailout plan calls for banks to write off half of what Greece owes them. But in return,
the Greek government would have to enact even deeper spending cuts. urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags
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City urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags State RAY SUAREZ: The prime minister of Greece,
George Papandreou, flew to France late today to explain his sudden call for a referendum
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