ATHENS — What did Angela Merkel really say?
The Greek press buzzed late Friday when the office of freshly inaugurated Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos issued a statement saying Merkel, the German chancellor, had suggested that Greece should hold a referendum on the euro.
In an official phone call earlier in the day with Greece’s ceremonial President Karolos Papoulias, the statement said, Merkel had suggested the vote take place on the same day as new elections, June 17.
The notion was quickly condemned by politicians here on the political left and right. Alexis Tsipras, head of the fast-growing, left-wing Syriza party, blasted Merkel for treating Greece as a “protectorate.”
The statement from the prime minister’s office went on to say a referendum wasn’t being considered and was beyond the scope of the current caretaker government.
Yet when reached for comment, an official German government spokeswoman in Berlin denied that Merkel had ever floated such an idea. The Greek government, meanwhile, refused to comment beyond its statement.
That left the Greeks, and the news media, guessing what had actually transpired in that phone call.