The eurozone would cope with an abrupt exit by Greece, Germany’s finance minister said in an interview on Friday as Greek parties continued with efforts to form a government coalition.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is suggesting the eurozone could deal with an abrupt exit by Greece, even though he says he doesn’t want that to happen.
Schaeuble was quoted by the Rheinische Post newspaper Friday saying Greece has to fulfill its financial obligations in order to stay in the 17-nation eurozone, but that Athens could not be forced.
Should Greece leave, Schaeuble says “we have learned a lot in the last two years and built in protective mechanisms.”
He adds: “The risk of effects on other countries in the eurozone have been reduced and the eurozone as a whole has become more resistant.”
Schaeuble’s comments came as Socialists in Greece tried to cobble together a government, the third party to attempt to do so since Sunday’s elections gave a razor-thin majority in parliament to anti-austerity parties.
Germany and the EU have made it clear to Greece that it must abide by its austerity pledges if it wants to receive bailout funds, money that Athens needs to avoid a default.
If no party manages to form a coalition, the president will call new elections that observers say are likely to hand a greater majority in parliament to anti-austerity parties.
“No-one is threatening anyone here,” Schaeuble said in the interview. “But we must be honest... and tell our Greek friends and partners that there is no other way that the one that we have chosen together.”
“We have already done a lot,” he said, referring to two bailouts for Greece. “Greece must understand that in exchange, it must fulfill its obligations.”
It is “dangerous to tell tales to citizens telling them that there was another, simpler way to heal Greece avoiding all the trials. It’s absurd,” he said.