Greece’s ex-Prime Minister George Papandreou has, through an aide, disputed the version of events given by his former Spanish counterpart during discussions at the G20 summit in Cannes in November 2011 regarding a referendum on the euro in Greece.
In a new book, called “El Dilema” (The Dilemma), former Spanish Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero claims that German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried several times to convince him that his country should agree to a bailout program. Zapatero refused but claimed that Papandreou, who had just announced his intention to call a referendum on whether Greece should accept a second bailout package to remain in the euro, came under intense pressure as well.
Zapatero describes the Cannes Festival Palace, where the summit was held and where Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy held private talks, as being “a fortress besieged by the markets.” He also alleges that Sarkozy became enraged with Papandreou and called him a “f***ing psycho.”
The claim was vehemently denied in a statement on Saturday by Papandreou’s press spokesman Giorgos Elenopoulos, who said that Zapatero was not present at the discussion between Papandreou, Sarkozy and Merkel and could not have known what was said.
Elenopoulos also insists that the atmosphere during the meeting was amicable and that Papandreou had support from Merkel for his proposal to hold a referendum.
Elenopoulos also insisted that Papandreou had informed his eurozone counterparts about his intention to call a referendum before he announced the would-be vote in a televised meeting of PASOK’s parliamentary group. Papandreou stepped down as prime minister soon after the Cannes meeting.