Germans expressed fury and frustration at Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's shock decision to call a referendum on the latest aid package, with some saying the gamble would push Greece out of the euro zone.
You can't help thinking that they should be grateful as Europe is trying to help, said Konstanze Pilge, a 26-year old student, walking near the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin. Now it looks like they are going to mess things up.
Papandreou dropped his bombshell on Monday evening, less than a week after European leaders agreed the outlines of a second bailout for Athens.
It just goes to show once again what a huge mistake it was not to throw Greece out of the euro zone at the start, said Wolfgang Gerke, a banking professor and president of the Bavarian Financial Centre think tank.
Europe's paymaster Germany and its partners in the euro zone were taken by surprise by the announcement.
Rainer Bruederle, parliamentary leader for Free Democrats (FDP) who share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, suggested Athens was trying to wriggle out of the 130 billion euro bailout deal, which demands harsh state spending cuts from Greece in exchange for aid.
I was irritated (by the news), Bruederle told Deutschlandfunk radio. That's a strange way to act.
PREPARE FOR INSOLVENCY
Papandreou said he needed wider political backing for the measures following a wave of strikes and defections of lawmakers in his party.
A poll over the weekend showed nearly 60 percent of Greeks have a negative view of the rescue deal, suggesting that voters in the referendum, which is likely to be held early next year, would say no to the rescue package.
One can only do one thing: prepare for the eventuality of a state insolvency in Greece and if it doesn't fulfil the agreements, then the point will have been reached where the money is turned off, Bruederle told German radio.
The prime minister had (agreed) to a rescue package that benefited his country. Other countries are making considerable sacrifices for decades of mismanagement and poor leadership in Greece -- wrong decisions were made and the country manoeuvred itself into this crisis.
Joerg Rocholl, president of the Berlin-based European School of Management and Technology, called Papandreou's announcement surprising and courageous but said it could lead to a situation where Greece can no longer remain a member of the euro zone.
Greece is due to receive an 8 billion euro tranche of aid in mid-November, but is likely to run out of cash again in January, around the time when the referendum would take place.
Papandreou's announcement looks sure to complicate efforts to win public support in the bloc for another rescue and could hamper an initiative to convince banks to accept 50-percent losses on their Greek debt holdings.
Countries like Germany and Finland may find it difficult to defend funnelling more cash to Athens over the coming months with the threat of the referendum looming.
If the Greeks say no, then it means bankruptcy. It would be a clear 'no' to the euro, said Josef Kaesmeier, chief economist at Munich-based private bank Merck Finck.
We have got to the point where we can say: if someone doesn't want to be in the club any more, they should go.
(Additional reporting by Madeline Chambers, Stephen Brown and Gernot Heller in Berlin, Kathrin Jones, Andreas Kroener and Vera Eckert in Frankfurt; editing by Robert Woodward)