Greece must push through economic reforms or leave the euro, Germany’s economy minister said an interview published on Monday, adding Germany could not hold a referendum on whether to fund further euro zone bailouts.
“The Greeks have a choice: reforms within the euro zone or no reforms and leave. There is no third way,” Philipp Roesler, who is head of the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition, told the mass-circulation daily Bild.
Asked if he thought the Greeks were “ungrateful,” Roesler replied: “The Greek government must at least understand that at some point our patience will end.”
The E.U. has told Greece’s bickering politicians to explain by Monday evening how they plan to form a unity government to get the country’s bailout program back on track, following Prime Minister George Papandreou’s disastrous attempt to put it to a referendum.
Roesler, asked by Bild if Germany could hold a referendum on whether to extend further aid to Greece, said he “could imagine” a popular vote on issues such as giving up more decision-making competences to the European Union.
“But legally we are not allowed to hold referendums on financial questions. Such votes could be subject to populist abuse,” said Roesler.
Some of the more euroskeptic elements of his party, who have put forward a motion to stop any further help for Greece at a party congress in Frankfurt next weekend, argue the German people should be consulted more directly on such issues.