Germany’s finance minister says Greece may leave the 19-member eurozone if the administration in Athens fails to clinch a final agreement with its international creditors.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with German-language Austrian public broadcaster, ORF, on Friday, Wolfgang Schaeuble said the possibility of Greece’s departure from the European Union’s monetary bloc cannot be excluded.
“To the extent that Greece is solely responsible and decides what is to happen, and we don’t know exactly what Greek leaders are doing, we can’t exclude it,” he said in reference to an exit from the eurozone by the Greek government.
“Europe is ready to help Greece, but Greece must let itself be helped,” Schaeuble stated.
Meanwhile, the president of the European Commission has said he is not satisfied with the progress in talks over Greece’s bailout loans, but he rejects the possibility that Athens might be forced to exit the eurozone.
“I am not satisfied by the developments in the recent weeks. I don’t think we have made sufficient progress, but we will try to push in the direction of a successful conclusion of the issues we have to deal with,” Jean-Claude Juncker said ahead of talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on Friday.
“I am totally excluding a failure, I don’t want a failure. I would like Europeans to go together. This is not the time for division, this is the time for coming together,” he added.
Eurozone finance ministers agreed on February 24 to give Greece a four-month extension of its international bailout to avert the possibility of the country’s exit from the currency area.
But Athens will not get any of the cash until eurozone partners approve a list of reform measures proposed by Greece.
The Tsipras administration has tried to revise the terms of the country’s €240-billion (USD 270 billion) bailout it received from the troika of international lenders – the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union – following the 2009 economic crisis.
Last month, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis warned that his country’s exit from eurozone would trigger a collapse in the “house of cards.”
“Greece’s exit from the euro is not something that is part of our plans, simply because we believe it is like building a house of cards. If you take out the Greek card, the others will collapse,” Varoufakis told Italy’s national public broadcaster RAI.