The eurozone would cope if Greece left the currency union, Germany’s finance minister said in an interview yesterday as Greek parties continued with efforts to form a coalition government.
Asked by the regional Rheinische Post whether the eurozone could withstand a Greek exit, German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schaeuble said: “Europe won’t sink that easily.”
“We want Greece to remain in the eurozone, but it also has to want this and to fulfill its obligations. We can’t force anyone,” Schaeuble said.
“We have learned a lot these past two years and have built protection mechanisms. The danger of contamination for other countries in the eurozone have become weaker and the eurozone as a whole has become more resistant,” Schaeuble said.
“The crisis has shown that one must act quickly and that Europe can act quickly ... the notion that we would not be capable of reacting in the short term to something unforeseen is false,” he added.
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 is set to 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, but we must be honest ... and tell our Greek friends and partners that there is no other way than the one that we have chosen together,” Schaeuble said in the interview.
“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,” he said.
It is “dangerous to tell tales to citizens, telling them that there is another, simpler way to heal Greece, avoiding all the trials. It’s absurd,” he said.