eurozone leaders strike tough tone on greece
Last Updated : GMT 06:41:18
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Eurozone leaders strike tough tone on Greece

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Arab Today, arab today Eurozone leaders strike tough tone on Greece

Athens - AFP

With Greece perilously close to calling new elections in which voters remain firmly opposed to measures imposed by the EU creditors, the prospect of a Greek exit from the eurozone looms large. Here is a look at what leaders, ministers, EU officials and central bankers have said in recent days: The sternest words from eurozone partners since May 6 elections have been strong pleas that Greece not waver on strict budget measures agreed to in return for two rounds of rescue loans and a huge writedown on Greek debt. Germany is adamant that Greece tow the line with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble dismissing talk that an exit of Greece from the eurozone could destabilise the continent. \"Europe won\'t sink that easily,\" Schaeuble said. \"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. \"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.\" Bundesbank president, and member of the European Central Bank, Jens Weidmann said there was \"no German economic diktat. But if Athens doesn\'t keep its word, it will be a democratic choice. The consequence will be that the basis for fresh aid will disappear.\" But Weidmann shrugged his shoulders at the prospect of Greece reverting to the drachma: \"The consequences would be much worse (for Athens) than for the rest of the eurozone.\" Jorg Asmussen, a German ECB board member said: \"The decision to remain in the eurozone is in the hands of the Greeks.\" Irish central bank governor Patrick Honohan, also of the ECB, said that a Greek departure from the eurozone \"isn\'t necessarily fatal\" and could technically be managed. Germany\'s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said \"Greece has to want to be helped\". \"We want to keep the eurozone together. The future of Greece in the eurozone now lies in the hands of the Greece,\" Westerwelle stressed. But softening the tough talk, on Monday German Chancellor Angela Merkel said solidarity towards Greece would only end if Athens forgoes its commitments. \"I don\'t think this will happen,\" Merkel said. But the head of Germany\'s chief opposition party said Merkel\'s hard line on austerity had driven Greek voters into the arms of extremists. Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the Social Democrats, told the weekly Die Zeit that Merkel\'s \"unimaginative savings diktat\" had driven debt-mired Greece to the brink. \"Enemies of Europe\" are moving into parliament as \"the (Greek) economy is breaking apart around us,\" Gabriel said, warning the country could slip into \"social chaos\". In Brussels, most European Union officials held a tough line similar to that in Berlin. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Greece should still \"leave the euro if it fails to respect the strict rules it agreed to.\" \"I have a lot of respect for Greek democracy ... but I also have to respect the other 16 parliaments,\" Barroso said in an interview with Italian news channel SkyTG24. EU president Herman Van Rompuy appealed to Greece\'s political leaders\' \"sense of national responsibility.\" Michel Barnier, the EU\'s Internal Market Commissioner, struck a rare conciliatory tone: \"We see all too well that Greece is at the limit of what the people can sustain,\" he said. Elsewhere in Europe, Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden said Greeks \"know very well what the conditions are to get further money from the EU ... otherwise we could not give further financial support.\" In Finland, European Affairs Minister Alexander Stubb said the situation was \"black and white\" and \"in the hands of the Greeks themselves.\" \"We can only stand and watch,\" Stubb said. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, a former finance minister, added that \'Grexit,\' as economists have taken to calling a Greek euro exit currency, would be a \"catastrophe for Greece economically and socially.\" Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo however urged Europeans to refrain from giving advice to Greece and allow the country time to form a government from a wide array of political parties. \"In Greece, there are at least three (parties), that takes time,\" said the prime minister. The current Belgium government, with ministers from six different parties, was formed 541 days after elections. Whatever the way forward, Austria\'s Finance Minister Maria Fekter underlined that the EU rulebook remains unclear. \"You cannot leave the eurozone,\" she said. \"You can leave the European Union and then you can leave the eurozone.

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