The eurozone would cope if Greece left the currency union, Germany's finance minister said in an interview on Friday as Greek parties continued with efforts to form a government coalition.
Asked by the regional Rheinische Post whether the eurozone could withstand a Greek exit, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said: "Europe won't sink that easily."
|The eurozone would cope if Greece left the currency union, Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, pictured last month, said in an interview on Friday as Greek parties continued with efforts to form a government coalition. (AFP Photo/Miguel Riopa) |
"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.
"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."
"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."
Schaeuble's comments came as Germany's foreign minister kept up the pressure on Greece on Friday, saying there could be no more payments of aid unless Athens enacted reforms it has agreed with its international partners.
"We want to help Greece and we will help Greece. But Greece has to want to be helped. If they deviate from the agreed reform path, then the payment of further tranches of aid is not possible," Guido Westerwelle told lawmakers.
"We are sticking to our pledges to help. But that means as well that the agreed reforms in Greece must be carried out.
"We want to keep the eurozone together. The future of Greece in the eurozone now lies in the hands of the Greece," he stressed.
Socialists in Greece continued trying 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.