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Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves upon his arrival at the airport before the start of the G20 summit in Los Cabos on June 17, 2012. (HENRY ROMERO/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves upon his arrival at the airport before the start of the G20 summit in Los Cabos on June 17, 2012. (HENRY ROMERO/REUTERS)

G20 Summit

Greece avoided ‘catastrophic event’ with vote, Ottawa says Add to ...

A Greek rejection of the euro zone would have been a “catastrophic event,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spokesman says, adding that Sunday’s election result will help provide stability for the world economy.

Andrew MacDougall, the Prime Minister’s director of communications, along with senior Canadian government officials, provided a briefing to reporters late Sunday on the G20 negotiations and the impact of the Greek election.

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Mr. MacDougall said there is still work to be done by Greece – which elected a majority of parties that support the country’s continued participation in the euro zone – but the results avoid an immediate crisis this week.

“The result [Sunday] could have been obviously worse in terms of the euro zone stability and cohesiveness so this is a result that allows the work to continue on,” he said. “Canada obviously wants to see Greece in the euro zone and to avoid the kind of catastrophic event that was avoided [Sunday].”

The focus of the G20 summit now shifts to the broader stability of the euro zone, which is struggling to decide how deeply it should integrate and how best to avoid further bailouts of troubled members.

Mr. MacDougall said that because not all 17 euro zone members are in the G20, a clear answer to that question might not come her in Los Cabos.

“I think we have to temper our expectations in that sense that this is really a problem for a separate table to do the nuts and bolts work,” he said. “We do hope that there is some language coming out of the G20 that does address the situation in the euro zone.”

European leaders are moving to portray a united and positive front at the opening of the G20 leaders summit after avoiding the worst-case scenario of a Greek rejection of the euro zone.

José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy are scheduled to speak to reporters Monday morning.

G20 leaders were bracing for a very different reality this week. Monday could have easily turned into a wild day of high-stakes global politics and stock market turmoil had Greek voters rejected the euro zone and its austerity-laden bailout terms.

Canada and its G7 colleagues issued a statement Sunday evening in response to the Greek vote, saying it is in “all our interests for Greece to remain in the Euro area.” The G7 also said it welcomes the commitment of the euro zone to work with the next Greek government.

The official G20 summit does not kick off until late afternoon Monday. However most of Monday morning will be taken up with bilateral meetings between leaders, some of which will be watched very closely.

U.S. President Barrack Obama meets Monday morning with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The discussion is expected to focus heavily on the ongoing violence in Syria, a country with close ties to Russia.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will meet his South Korean counterpart, President Lee Myung-bak, Monday morning. He also has an event planned with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

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