German-Greek relations were further strained on Friday after Greece’s new government spokesman, Dimitris Tsiodras, said Chancellor Angela Merkel had raised the idea of Greece holding a referendum about its eurozone membership next month in parallel with its June 17 elections, which Germany strongly denied.
According to, Dimitris Tsiodras, during a telephone conversation between Papoulias and Merkel, the latter “conveyed some thoughts” about a possible referendum in which she emphasized Europe’s determination to help Greece emerge from the crisis.
Tsiodras said a referendum was “obviously” out of the question, as it falls outside the jurisdiction of Greece’s newly appointed caretaker government, Kathimerini reported.
The rise of parties opposing austerity commitments, has raised fears that if anti-bailout parties prevail the country could be forced to leave the euro.ND leader Antonis Samaras commented, “Greece doesn’t need a referendum to prove its choice in favour of the euro, a choice that it’s defending with bloody sacrifices,” he said. Radical Left Coalition leader Alexis Tsipras accused main parties PASOK and ND “for giving Merkel the right” to treat Greece ”as a protectorate”. PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said, “referendums fall exclusively within the competencies of the government and the Greek Parliament and not the EU or other member states.”
Fitch ratings agency on Thursday downgraded Greece to CCC, the lowest possible grade for a country that is not in default, warning of Greek exit from the eurozone, according to Reuters.
On Friday, Fitch also downgraded the credit ratings of five Greek banks: the National Bank of Greece, Piraeus,Agricultural Bank of Greece, Eurobank, and Alpha.