LONDON, June 24 (UPI) -- Voters in Great Britain approved a referendum Thursday to leave the European Union. The decision is affecting markets worldwide and prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his resignation.
Here's what leaders around the world are saying about the so-called "Brexit" decision.
British Prime Minister David Cameron
"I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the EU. I made clear the referendum was about this, and this alone, not the future of any single politician, including myself. But the British people made a different decision to take a different path. As such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction," Cameron said.
U.S. President Barack Obama
"The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom's membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond. The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world."
Russian President Vladimir Putin
"I think it's comprehensible why this happened: First, no one wants to feed and subsidize poorer economies, to support other states, support entire nations. ... Apparently the British people are not satisfied with the way problems are being solved in the security sphere, these problems have become more acute lately with the migration processes."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
"We have to remain calm and composed. We need to make composed analysis and decisions. The EU is one of the world's largest economic areas, a guarantor of peace and stability. We must engage with the world. I believe the world will stand united. ... We need to make sure that Europe is varied, and as varied as the people of the EU are. Time and time again, we are confronted with people that have doubts over the direction that the EU has taken. We have to make sure that people feel that the EU can make a contribution to people's lives."
French President Francois Hollande
"The British people have decided to leave. It is a sad decision but one which I respect. ... The vote puts the European Union in difficulties. It must recognize its shortfalls. A jolt is necessary. Europe must reaffirm it values of freedom, solidarity, peace. The EU must be understood and controlled by its citizens. I will do everything to secure profound change rather than decline."
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
"The outcome of the referendum should act as a wake-up call for the sleepwalker who is heading for the abyss. The arrogant words of technocrats angered people. We need progressive reforms to raise a wall against Euro-skepticism."